R3 billion plus to be spent on upgrading military facilities


The Eastern Cape will see two major military infrastructure projects over the current national budget’s five year medium term expenditure framework.

The first will see a start made on construction of a base hospital for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in Port Elizabeth and the second is the refurbishment of facilities at 6 SA infantry Battalion, the SA Army’s specialist airborne assault unit at Grahamstown.

Other infrastructure projects listed in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) for 2016/17 include refurbishment work at both the SA Air Force and SA Army headquarters in Pretoria as well as AFB Bloemspruit and the NCO’s mess in Thaba Tshwane.

Small infrastructure priority projects will also be undertaken at AFB Overberg in Bredasdorp, 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment in Potchefstroom, Salisbury Island Naval Base in Durban and the Military Academy in Saldanha.

Unserviceable infrastructure at the Academy will also be demolished as will some in the country’s military capital, Thaba Tshwane.

This is also budgeted for in the five year medium term expenditure and R3.3 billion has been allocated to it.

Last year’s Department of Defence (DoD) annual report noted that the majority of Department of Defence (DoD) facilities (93%) are in fair and acceptable condition, with only 1% being described as good and 2% poor.

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.

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 DoD’s 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.