The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is implementing a number of major infrastructure upgrades, with billions of rands allocated to these projects over the next few years.
In its 2018 Annual Performance Plan, the Department of Defence said resources were being channelled into the construction and refurbishment of military health facilities, the refurbishment of military bases and units, and improvements to accommodation, kitchen and security facilities.
The Annual Performance Plan stated that an amount of R2 938 858 000 has been allocated to Joint Logistic Services (Logistics Management) for the three-year 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). “The full cost of the Sub-programme Joint Logistic Services is estimated at an amount of R3 878 783 928 for the 2018 MTEF. The shortfall of R939 925 928 will impact on the ability to maintain the DOD facilities and the staffing of the Defence Works Formation.”
As part of the overall budget reduction, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula earlier this year said the Department of Defence would be looking at generating funds through alternative means and this includes ‘sweating’ assets and leasing out certain Departmental facilities.
The Department of Defence’s largest infrastructure project over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework is upgrading and refurbishing the military health service’s training centre in Pretoria.
Other projects include: constructing a base hospital in Port Elizabeth, which is in the design stage and is expected to be completed by 2023/24; upgrading and refurbishing 2 Military Hospital, which is expected to be completed by 2019/20; refurbishing the 6 South African Infantry Battalion in Grahamstown, which is in the design stage and is expected to be completed in 2021/22; refurbishing the school of engineers in Kroonstad, which is in the planning stage and is expected to be completed by 2024/25; refurbishing air force bases in Bloemspruit and Overberg, which are in the design and construction stages and expected to be completed in 2024/25 and 2020/21, respectively; refurbishing the South African Army and South African Air Force headquarters in Pretoria, which is in the design stage and is expected to be completed in 2023/24; and refurbishing A-Mess military base in Thaba Tshwane, which is in the design stage and is expected to be completed in 2023/24.
In its long-term infrastructure plan, the Department of Defence lists three dozen big and small projects ranging from the construction of walls and fences to the construction of a base hospital and medical staff housing in Port Elizabeth. Some of these projects are unfunded as they are still at the planning phase. In addition, 60 refurbishment projects are also listed along with 75 maintenance and repair projects.
“The Defence Works Formation and its regional units are expected to continue to maintain facilities across South Africa over the MTEF period. A number of projects, such as the construction of houses at the military academy in Saldanha and the construction of single quarters at the Lord’s Ground military base in Durban, will be undertaken by these units over the medium term,” the Annual Performance Plan stated.
Due to slow and unsatisfactory performance from the Department of Public Works (DPW) in maintaining and upgrading military facilities, the Department of Defence created the Defence Works Formation. It is expected to begin refurbishing the first floor at 1 Military Hospital as a pilot project.
“Through the Defence Works Capability the DOD will utilise its own manpower and material or appoint its own consultants and contractors to undertake the work. The result will be an enhanced and focussed renovation of DOD facilities through the facilities master plan (long-term infrastructure plan as extrapolated in the General Support Programme [Joint Logistic Support]).”