The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Defence on September 3 said it was concerned about the unending repair and maintenance programme (Ramp) of the first floor of 1 Military Hospital, in Tshwane.
The committee’s concerns are based on the cost implications involved, with more than R1-billion already spent, in addition to the cost of medical outsourcing, which are depleting an already-constrained budget.
As a result, the committee has requested to be furnished with a forensic report commissioned by the former Chief of the South African National Defence Force, as well as the progress so far in implementing the recommendations of that report.
“We find it extremely problematic that the Ramp that started in the 2005/6 financial year is yet to be concluded. It seems the project is turning into a milking cow with no end in sight, which negatively affects the fiscus,” said Joint Standing Committee on Defence co-chairperson Elleck Nchabeleng.
While the committee welcomes the intentions to use the Defence Works Formation to finalise the project, the uncertainty in relation to the funding and the projected 29 months to complete the project is disquieting, the committee says.
“The 1 Military Hospital lost its accreditation as a Level 4 hospital by the African Union and United Nations to support external and international peace-keeping operations, largely owing to the non-completion of the repair and maintenance work commissioned in 2006.
"What is concerning is that we cannot satisfactorily point to the value we have received from the expenditure so far,” said Joint Standing Committee on Defence co-chairperson Cyril Xaba.
The committee’s concerns are heightened by the cost escalations, on one hand by construction and on the other, the cost of medical outsourcing.
The committee says it is concerned about the escalating costs paid by the defence department for medical outsourcing as a result of the stalled project. The committee was informed that between 2016/17 and 2019/20 financial years the department spent R138.7-million, R177.8-million, R130.3-million and R182.4-million, respectively, on medical outsourcing.
The committee resolved to revisit the 1 Military Hospital to get to the bottom of the matter and ensure accountability. This will include receiving a detailed breakdown of the expenditure thus far, consequence management against officials and companies involved in wrongdoing and a way forward.