Works Formation artisans hold skills “Olympics”


Aiming to properly execute its mandate of, among others, construction, maintenance and repair, a Department of Defence (DoD) Works Formation prestige week is currently underway in Pretoria West.

Part of the week’s activities sees personnel from the nine regional works units test their construction related skills against each other, in what can be termed an Olympics for artisans.

The Pretoria West Defence Works Training School (DWTS) is immediately east of Armscor’s Gerotek facility and opposite Atteridgeville.

Thirty-eight artisans per regional works unit will take up tools – for example, trowels, saws and planes – to measure their bricklaying, carpentry, electrical, painting, plastering, tiling, plumbing and welding abilities against their formation colleagues. Also on the skills competition list is what Formation Corporate Communication Staff Officer Class 2, Major Tshomoko Mabula, termed “mobile plant operators” which presumably includes site dumpers, tractor/loader/backhoes and skid-steer loaders.

The prestige week gives artisans an opportunity to show talent and innovation in, among others, metal and woodwork, recycling and “new inventions”.

The “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” saying is incorporated into the Works Formation prestige week by way of competitive recreation. This sees formation personnel taking sides in tug o’ war, five-a-side soccer and volleyball.

Those taking part are the cream of the provincial crop and are participating in the first ever Works Formation prestige week event.

At its core the week aims to strengthen the ability and capability of its artisan strength to construct, maintain and repair SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and Department of Defence facilities as well as manage them and the real estate in the government defence portfolio. Base and facility environmental management is another component of the Works Formation mandate along with support services.

The need for effective facility maintenance was highlighted by two parliamentary replies this year by defence minister Thandi Modise to questions on SANDF and DoD buildings.

She revealed that 26% – just over a quarter of the 36 890 buildings surveyed by the DoD/SANDF – needed rehabilitation. On the credit side of the ledger no DoD/SANDF used buildings need “total replacement”. There are, however 5 165 buildings (14% of the total) in need of “corrective maintenance” and a further 19 921 (54%) in need of what the Ministerial reply says is “condition-based maintenance”. The remaining six percent (2 213) need “preventative maintenance”.

Modise explained that the DoD had conducted a building condition assessment of the military bases and the facilities used by the DoD, with the assistance of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

All told about R8 billion is needed to clear the building maintenance “backlog”.

In a reply earlier this year to Washington Mafanya (Economic Freedom Fighters), Modise said the SANF has over 52 800 buildings it uses across all nine provinces with the “majority of facilities in a fair state”.