The majority of Department of Defence (DoD) facilities are in fair and acceptable condition, with only 1% being described as good, according to the latest DoD annual report, which notes that the new Works Formation is attempting to address the massive backlog from the National Department of Public Works (NDPW) when it comes to maintaining South African National Defence Force facilities.
In its 2014/15 annual report, the Department of Defence stated that its facilities are “1% good, 38% acceptable, 55% fair, 4% poor, and 2% very poor.”
One who has long been unhappy about the way military facilities and infrastructure is being neglected by Public Works is SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke. He reinstated the Army’s Works Regiment while he was chief of the landward arm of the SANDF. He saw the regiment stepping in to do the work that Public Works apparently couldn’t get round to. In the first two years of its re-establishment the regiment built a military hospice at Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, and finished extensive refurbishing of a military mess in Thaba Tshwane.
The 2014/15 annual report again highlights unhappiness with the Public Works department: the DoD was anticipating the NDPW to complete 70% of the capital works projects during the year under review, but due to “continued slow progress,” only 5 projects (20.6%) were completed. “The NDPW managed to spend only 34.43% allocated by the DoD for maintenance, thereby greatly contributing towards the increase in the backlog,” the annual report notes, with an amount of R263.645 million out of a total allocation of R782.311 million actually being spent.
The Works Formation aims to address these shortcomings. According to the annual report, “the Defence Works Formation was established in FY2012/13 to attend to the maintenance of infrastructure and facilities. The necessary personnel are now being employed, and over the medium term, the focus will be on operationalising the unit.
“The maintenance of infrastructure and facilities was previously done by the NDPW with funds provided under the subprogramme Office Accommodation of the Administration programme. An amount of R951.8 million over the FY2015/16 to FY2017/18 MTEF [Medium Term Expenditure Framework] is reallocated from the Administration Programme to the General Support Programme to capacitate staff, operationalise the Defence Works Formation and to attend to identified military bases.
“The total cost of refurbishing military bases in the medium term is projected at R1.4 billion. Unserviceable infrastructure will be demolished in Thaba Tshwane (at a projected cost of R18.3 million) and at the Military Academy in Saldanha.”
The General Support Programme, through its Joint Logistics Services subprogramme, has a number of major infrastructure projects in the works, namely 16 projects totalling R109.427 million in FY2014/15, R114.899 million in FY2015/16 and R116.375 million in FY2016/17.
Maintenance and repair will involve 36 projects worth R830.919 million in FY2014/15, 35 projects worth R859.411 million in FY2015/16 and 35 projects worth R1.642 billion in FY2016/17.
This financial year’s estimates of national expenditure indicate the Works Formation will be responsible for refurbishment of military bases at Bethlehem, Bloemspruit, Eerste Rivier and Grahamstown as well as refurbishment of air force and army headquarters in Pretoria. The Defence Works Formation has also taken over the Refurbishment Project of 1 Military Hospital.
Earlier this year defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Public Works on the transfer of immovable asset life cycle management functions in respect of Defence Endowment Properties from the DPW to the DoD. “It is my belief that this arrangement will enable the DoD to properly manage its own property portfolio to the benefit of our members who live and work therein,” she said.
“The DoD is grateful that the National Treasury approved over R900 million for the MTEF 2015/16 to 2017/18 to fund the capacitation of the Defence Works Capability. There are currently 223 members in various phases of artisan training and a total of 751 members have been trained and qualified as artisans,” she said during her defence budget debate in May.