The South African National Defence (SANDF) is edging closer to managing its own military facilities which could also see an end to high lease costs estimated to rise to around R1-billion “in less than ten years”.
On Wednesday, DWF commander Major General Joseph Ledwaba briefed Parliament’s portfolio committee on defence and military veterans on plans to devolve maintenance and build functions function from Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to the SANDF.
Ledwaba said the transfer is based on a phased approach and will see specific functions transferred over a period while establishing both capacity and capability.
In his presentation, he said Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula identified the continued deteriorating army facilities as the “first enterprise risk” of the department.
Ledwaba said this could lead to, among others, the inability of the SANDF to provide support to the people in the event of Infrastructure destruction after natural disasters.
“[It could also lead to] inability of the SANDF to carry out its secondary mandate to support government with infrastructure in post conflict reconstruction and development and compromise combat readiness,” he said.
Ledwaba said the poor state of the facilities tarnishes the image of the SANDF, negatively affects morale and leads to an escalation of leasing costs.
The leasing costs, Ledwaba added, could incur costs of close to R1-billion in less than ten years.
Ledwaba said the SANDF has the capacity of qualified artisans in all construction related trades.
He said 894 artisans received their red seal trade qualification in different construction trades.
“In-house capacity is able to execute less complex new construction, including maintenance and repairs to buildings. Complex infrastructure projects and skill transfer to DWF built environment professional are done with the assistance of Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) over three years,” he said.
According to Ledwaba’s presentation around R1 194 196 606 would be needed for the 2021/22 financial year.
He said the department and National Treasury have been engaging to agree on a financial injection.
“The DWF will only outsource work where high specialisation, specialised expensive machines and equipment and low frequency of repair and maintenance is required. This includes lift maintenance, coded welders, high voltage installations, bulk services, major ground works. Where it is too expensive to establish and maintain own capacity we outsource,” he said.
He said the DWF will be responsible for basic and advanced repair and maintenance of SANDF facilities.
The SANDF already has targeted projects.
These include an Air Force Base at Durban’s King Shaka International Airport which is already under construction.
The department will identify land parcels in Durban North to build accommodation facilities to support the Air Force and Naval Base.
The SANDF is also undertaking planning and design for military bases as well as design for new offices and accommodation within the Thaba Tshwane area and Magazine Hill.
There are also plans related to maintenance at airforce runways, naval dockyards, kitchen and refurbishment projects.