The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure convened to receive a comprehensive report addressing the implementation of recommendations during their oversight visit to small harbours, including Robben Island, from 18 to 21 April 2023. The entities involved are: the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the Department of Sport, Art, and Culture (DSAC) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE). The original plan for the presentation aimed to cover both Small Harbours and Robben Island. However, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee (the Chairperson) decided to revise the plan, narrowing the focus exclusively to Robben Island. This adjustment was made as a gesture of respect for the significant role the island played in the history of the country, especially in the context of celebrating 30 years of freedom.
Public Works highlighted the challenges in establishing the water desalination plant have been successfully addressed. The plant, crucial for providing water to the region, including servicing toilets on the island, is now fully operational after prompt repairs. As of 09 November 2023, Reservoir Two boasts a capacity of over 1 000 000 litres, and Reservoir Three holds around 400 000 litres. On-site plumbers are actively repairing pipes and addressing water leaks within the distribution network, with the goal of ensuring a consistent water supply to housing and the harbour. There is high anticipation for the water reticulation system to be fully functional by 15 November 2023, pending confirmation from the regional office, assuring continued effective water supply to essential areas on the island.
Robben Island Museum (RIM) has effectively tackled the challenge of ensuring water sustainability on the island by exploring alternative sources, namely boreholes. Currently, Robben Island has a total of 11 boreholes, with three successfully revitalised. These revitalised boreholes collectively produce 800 to 1000 litres per hour each day. Anticipating a surge in visitor numbers, particularly during the peak season from November to February, the Museum aims to revitalise the remaining seven boreholes. If successful, this strategy is projected to result in an increase exceeding 6000 litres per hour per day.
The Committee Members expressed dissatisfaction with the insufficient interaction and coordination among the involved entities (DPWI, DSAC and DFFE). The absence of DASC and DFFE from the meeting, particularly concerning issues related to harbours, DPWI, and Robben Island, further exacerbated their concerns. Members emphasised the need for DPWI to adopt a proactive rather than a reactive approach and take a leading role in addressing these issues.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee Members, the support team, representatives from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the executive team including the Minister, Deputy Minister, and Acting Director-General of the Department, the Robben Island Museum Board, the CEO of the Robben Island Museum, and representatives from the Department Sports, Art, and Culture. The purpose of the meeting was to receive a comprehensive report addressing the progress made in implementing recommendations following the Committee oversight visit to small harbours, including Robben Island, conducted from 18 to 21 April 2023. The focus of this session was exclusively on Robben Island, given its historical significance as the country approaches 30 years of freedom in 2024. The Chairperson emphasised the Committee's commitment to addressing challenges observed on the island and fulfilling their oversight responsibilities.
Apologies were made on behalf of Minister Sihle Zikalala, who was concurrently engaged in a Cabinet meeting on the same day as the Committee session. Acknowledgement was given to the Deputy Minister, who faced network issues but managed to join the meeting as it progressed.
Briefing by the DPWI
Adv Nishi Sharma, Acting Director: Facilities Management Maintenance, DPWI, started her presentation by focusing on Robben Island Museum (RIM), covering key updates and developments. The presentation commenced with Slide 19, where she provided a comprehensive overview of the oversight visit conducted earlier this year at the Robben Island Museum. The update primarily revolves around three aspects: the progress made in implementing water desalinisation plants, the status of the Total Facilities Management Contract (TFMC), and the Service Level Agreement (SLA) or tripartite agreement involving DPWI, DSAC, and the management team of the RIM.
The establishment of the water desalinisation plant posed considerable challenges this year. Its commissioning was particularly demanding as it serves as the primary water source for the region, crucially supporting various utilities, including the servicing of toilets on the island. Although the island has successfully restored some boreholes, the challenges persisted during this process. She is pleased to report that the desalinisation plant is now fully operational, with all necessary repairs having been promptly addressed. As of 09 November, Reservoir Two boasts a capacity of over 1 000 000 litres, while Reservoir Three holds approximately 400 000 litres. Currently, on-site plumbers are diligently repairing pipes and addressing water leaks within the water distribution network. This effort aims to ensure a consistent water supply to both the housing precinct and the harbour. In their pursuit of operational excellence, they are optimistic about the forthcoming confirmation from the regional office. According to their expectations, the water reticulation system is anticipated to be fully functional by 15 November 2023. They eagerly await guidance and confirmation from the regional office regarding the successful completion and functionality of the water reticulation system. This confirmation will provide assurance and pave the way for continued effective water supply to essential areas on the island.
On 13 November 2023, Cape Town regional office officials conducted essential tests, specifically Sands to 41 testing, within the water reticulation network. This meticulous examination aimed to ascertain the quality of the water for human consumption, recognising it as a critical risk factor in the island's water supply. Operational challenges, such as issues related to spares drawings, manuals, and schematics, were addressed during this period, with the targeted completion date set for 20 November 2023. The Portfolio Committee Members, who visited the site, observed a notable transformation compared to their previous visit. The Cape Town regional office has undertaken substantial efforts to ensure the operational functionality of the plant. Significant progress has been made despite encountering challenges, particularly in implementing the TFMC. They anticipate concluding the tender process soon, moving towards the subsequent tender award.
The TFMC strategy has been successfully developed, aligning with the insights gained during this year's oversight visit. The strategy's finalisation was influenced by various factors, including the time lapse from the issuance of the original procurement instruction. The complexity of the work required on the island and the support needed for certain capital works projects previously concluded by the island itself necessitated thorough consideration before the strategy was solidified. This comprehensive approach ensures that maintenance is effectively provided, addressing both immediate needs and long-term sustainability.
As a team, they conducted a thorough reassessment and risk analysis of the island, submitting their strategy to the Acting Director-General (ADG) at the time, Ms Nyeleti Makhubele. This was necessitated by the cost containment measures issued by the National Treasury. Following a meticulous review, they obtained approval to proceed with the project. Their initial aim was to initiate the tendering process within this calendar year, although they anticipate potential challenges as the matter undergoes their internal processes, expected to conclude by next week Monday at the latest.
One significant addition to the scoping for the TFMC was the inclusion of the bluestone and limestone quarries. The bluestone quarry underwent repairs by the Robben Island Museum, successfully concluding this year. Recognising the importance of ongoing maintenance for preserving this heritage site, they incorporated these elements into the scope of works. Collaboration with RIM infrastructure team played a pivotal role in aligning their requests and requirements.
They addressed the inclusion of crane requirements, encompassing both the island and the docking area, responding to essential operational needs. The contentious issue of asbestos, with its associated health and safety risks, led them to conduct an internal assessment. The TFM scoping focuses on making the asbestos safe, with plans for a more comprehensive removal and replacement project aligned with upcoming Capital Expenditure (CapEx) projects. Given the substantial cost implications and the constraints of the limited fiscus, they are considering a phased approach to tackle the asbestos issue.
Crucial to their forward momentum is managing their relationships, particularly with their client, the DSAC. The unique dynamic shared between the DPWI and RIM underscores the necessity for a well-defined agreement. Despite the absence of an integrated agreement due to the expiration of the previous one, extensive sessions and negotiations have been held to finalise a tripartite agreement. This agreement delineates their respective roles and responsibilities, fostering open communication and mutual support. The revised agreement, incorporating inputs from legal components within the DSAC and DPWI, was submitted to the office of the Acting DG on 13 November 2023. They remain committed to following up on its status, recognising the importance of alignment with the mandates of all involved departments and RIM.
RIM Steering Committee, which was previously a subject of concern during the last Portfolio Committee oversight visit, has now resumed its regular meetings. Despite several changes in management, the steering committee is poised to convene before the end of the year to furnish updates on progress and developments as a collective team. Presently, in the absence of TFMC at the Museum, the Cape Town Regional Office continues to provide interim maintenance support. This support encompasses day-to-day maintenance services and has been extended to include horticultural services. Notably, since 28 August 2023, a dedicated team of DPWI officials has been working on the island, reinforcing gardening services. While every form of assistance is met with its own set of challenges, proactive, open communication has been instrumental in addressing these issues. The oversight visits and the Deputy Minister's visit this year have significantly improved communication, not only at the strategic level but also at the operational level. Challenges are now promptly escalated and amicably resolved, representing a positive step resulting from the interventions of the Portfolio Committee and their executives.
The service coverage provided by the self-services team extends across the tourist bus route from Alpha1 to the harbour, encompassing public open spaces, the guesthouse, the old school, multiple learning centres, and the village precinct. Acknowledging past challenges with the service team, they have received confirmation that the team resumed its duties on the tourist bus route as of 30 October 2023. They are committed to prioritising the beautification of tourist routes, ensuring that these areas are aesthetically pleasing for visitors exploring various parts of the island.
Regarding the technical services provided by the Cape Town DPWI facilities management team, a comprehensive array of building works is undertaken, encompassing carpentry, roofing, plumbing, fire extinguishers, hose reels and hydrants. Electrical services include domestic and industrial electrical reticulation and the maintenance and operation of solar and generator plants. To ensure the optimal functioning of generators, the Cape Town Regional Office has appointed a dedicated full-time team. This team is responsible for maintenance, servicing, monitoring consumables, and addressing fuel supply challenges identified during visits this year, particularly concerning power supply issues on the island.
In a proactive approach, the procurement of two additional generators is underway, with an optimistic target for installation by the end of January 2024, if not sooner. Mechanical issues across the island, including pumps, patron equipment, refrigeration, air conditioning, access control, roller doors, gates, and the water treatment plant, are diligently addressed by the DPWI regional office through the Cape Town regional office.
Throughout the interim period before the TFMC is finalised, approximately 1160 calls have been logged for interim maintenance on the island. Recognising the importance of monitoring the services provided, discussions with the regional office and regional manager have led to assurances that TFM officials conducted site visits on 01 and 06 November 2023. The areas covered during these visits included the desalinisation plant, water reticulation network, generators, solar plant, and electrical reticulation. A commitment to regular and frequent site visits has been secured, supported by facilities management from the head office.
To reinforce these efforts and directly address concerns, both the speaker and the acting DDG plan to make visits to the island and the Cape Town regional office. This proactive approach ensures that any highlighted concerns are promptly addressed, maintaining a high standard of service and infrastructure management. In recent months, the Cape Town region has faced challenges due to storms and floods, leading to damages that partially contributed to delays in the repair and maintenance work planned by the DPWI on Robben Island. Additionally, the transportation of goods to and from the island experienced setbacks. It is crucial to acknowledge these external factors as they have impacted their timelines.
Moving forward, they recognise the necessity of integrating with the pipeline of capital works projects planned by RIM. This integration is twofold: first, to ensure that proper preventative maintenance aligns with the completion of Capex projects; second, to address the issue of asbestos. The latter requires careful planning to comprehensively cover a specific phase or area within the island, avoiding unnecessary disruptions to different parts of the environment. Looking ahead, they anticipate that the steering committee and the tripartite agreement will play a pivotal role in providing impetus to these integration efforts. As they aim for efficient project coordination, these mechanisms will facilitate streamlined communication and collaboration.
[See presentation document for more details]
Briefing by Infrastructure South Africa
Mr Thabang Tladi, Western Cape Lead: Infrastructure Investment, ISA, building upon the insights shared by Adv. Sharma, said that their role as ISA involves engaging with RIM management. They have sought collaboration in formulating an integrated master plan for their capital projects, emphasising a mega programme that not only fulfils immediate capital needs but also ensures the long-term sustainability of assets. Currently, their focus is on delineating the programme's components, and identifying various projects to be encompassed within the Integrated and Efficient RIM Infrastructure Programme. In this process, they aim to pinpoint opportunities suitable for collaboration between the public and private sectors. They will enhance business plans to attract diverse procurement models, fostering a holistic and sustainable approach to programme implementation and management, in collaboration with partners like DPWI.
The programme's scope encompasses diverse elements, starting with buildings on the island. RIM has initiated an alternative reuse programme, aiming to extract value from all island assets. This innovative approach seeks alternative uses that not only enhance the island's offerings to visitors but also safeguard asset utility. Additionally, mechanical, and electrical infrastructure, including bulk work such as plumbing and sanitation, will be integral to the programme. Facilities, including current office accommodations both on and off the island for example the Nelson Mandela Gateway, are also part of this comprehensive plan.
In the realm of logistics and transport, they are exploring alternative connectivity options between the island and the mainland. This will be a crucial aspect addressed in the elite business casework, ensuring a well-rounded approach to the programme. Moving forward, this integrated master plan is poised to be a transformative framework for RIM's capital projects, fostering sustainability, collaboration, and strategic development.
To facilitate the comprehensive planning and execution of the Robben Island capital and infrastructure program, they diligently follow a structured process. Key to this process is the establishment of agreed-upon terms of reference between ISA and Robben Island. These terms serve as a framework for collaboration and provide a shared understanding of objectives and responsibilities. Currently, their focus is on compiling the integrated infrastructure program within ISA. This programme is designed to encompass various projects identified to meet the capital and infrastructure needs of Robben Island. Once compiled, the programme will undergo internal committee approval within ISA. ISA employs specific criteria to evaluate whether programmes or projects meet the necessary pipeline inclusion standards. Upon approval, the integrated infrastructure programme will be officially registered within ISA. This marks a crucial step towards implementing the integrated master plan on behalf of Robben Island. They anticipate that this structured approach will enhance the effectiveness of the capital and infrastructure initiatives, aligning them with established criteria and standards.
[See presentation for more details]
Briefing by the Regional Manager of the Western Cape
Ms Phucuka Penxa, Regional Manager: Western Cape, National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (NDPWI), commenced her presentation by outlining that the focus of the presentation would centre on the maintenance issues raised by the Portfolio Committee during their previous visits, particularly addressing repairs and maintenance related to safety measures and leases. The ensuing update would cover the matters highlighted by the Portfolio Committee. Slide number four delved into the status and challenges of non-proclaimed areas, shedding light on the prevailing issues and detailing the progress made. Following this, the presentation addressed the purpose of the report, emphasising its role in providing a progress update to the Portfolio Committee regarding the oversight visit conducted on 18 and 21 April 2023. The Committee's visits spanned Saldana, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Gordon’s Bay and Robben Island.
The issues raised by the Portfolio Committee during these visits were then discussed. Key concerns included the lack of proper maintenance and upgrades, specifically related to slipways, show crane replacements, civil and electrical infrastructure representation, and general improvements at the various harbours. Security emerged as a critical matter, marked by weaknesses in harbour security leading to increased break-ins, vandalism, and concerns about suspicious activities like abalone poaching, drug trade, and human trafficking. The absence of power backup during load shedding and non-functional & unmonitored CCTV cameras were also highlighted as significant vulnerabilities.
Addressing the updates on day-to-day maintenance, the presentation clarified that facilities management in the region, through the FM unit, is actively engaged in addressing these issues. While the FM unit manages day-to-day maintenance, the presentation noted that capex projects for harbour improvements would be discussed in more detail later in the presentation. Additionally, the presentation hinted at a long-term maintenance plan, suggesting that a comprehensive strategy for sustained upkeep is in consideration. This structured overview ensures a clear understanding of the key topics covered in the presentation, enhancing communication and comprehension for the audience.
Since the Portfolio Committee's visits, there has been ongoing communication with DFFE. The Committee approached their Department for assistance in developing and implementing a refurbishment plan for the proclaimed fishing harbours. A meeting with DFFE has been planned, and they intend to commission detailed condition assessments for the various harbours. Subsequently, a maintenance plan for each harbour will be developed and submitted for approval and funding. This long-term maintenance plan aims to address the current challenges in maintenance and security highlighted by the Committee.
She said the meeting with DFFE was initially scheduled for tomorrow (23 November 2023) but has been rescheduled due to a property investment conference. Nonetheless, DFFE has committed to creating a comprehensive plan for harbour maintenance. In terms of security updates, technical security services will continue at Hout Bay due to extensive destruction and vandalism. DFFE is in the process of appointing security service providers for various harbours, aligning with their responsibility for harbour security.
Revenue generation was another key concern raised by the Portfolio Committee. DFFE derives income from launching, mooring, and gate fees, though these tariffs were last reviewed in 1998. DFFE has committed to reviewing the tariffs, but the latest update on the progress is pending. Public Works generates revenue from harbour rentals, and the Portfolio Committee highlighted issues related to month-to-month leases and the situation at Yzer-Fontaine, an unproclaimed harbour maintained by the municipality at no cost to the Department.
Slide number 10 outlined engagement with DFFE on tariff revision, with ongoing efforts to renew tariffs for harbour leases. The response from tenants has been low, attributed to the transition from previous rates to market-related tariffs. Continuous engagement with tenants is in progress to address concerns. Regarding Yzer-Fontaine, a memorandum of understanding with the Swartland Municipality has been developed and submitted. The Department awaits the municipality's response, aligning with the Portfolio Committee's concerns raised during the harbour visit.
Regarding the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) opportunities, the Portfolio Committee emphasised the extension of EPWP beneficiary appointments to additional harbours such as in Hout Bay. The Committee also expressed concerns that the existing EPWP opportunities are insufficient and unsustainable. They recommended incorporating and training youth, reappointing artisans to address unemployment, and tackling maintenance issues. In terms of progress on EPWP matters, there are currently 181 participants deployed across various harbours, including Hout Bay (36), Hermanas (50), Saldana (30), Saint Helena Bay (20), Pepper Bay (15), Gansbaai (22), and Laaiplek (8). Plans are underway to extend the programme to other harbours, contingent on budget constraints. This area will be a focus in the upcoming financial year following the revision of the EPWP strategy.
Concerning lease renewals, the Portfolio Committee and the Auditor-General raised issues about non-renewals and the percentage of expired leases. The Committee stressed the importance of bringing in new businesses and prioritising transformation during lease renewals. The renewal process for existing leases is in progress, expected to conclude by the end of March 2024. Advertisement of vacant properties is planned due to a significant number of tenants vacating harbours. To address empowerment and the participation of previously disadvantaged individuals, a ministerial Imbizo was held on 05 September 2023. Another Imbizo is scheduled for Saldana at the end of this month to inform communities about opportunities in Saldana, Pepper Bay, and other harbours. Regarding Yzer-Fountain, the memorandum of agreement has been sent to the municipality, awaiting their response. The non-proclamation of this harbour has been referred to DFFE, responsible for the proclamation.
Issues were identified during the Committee's visit, including the Sea Harvest lease expiration and the damaged key. An offer was made to Sea Harvest on 04 October 2023 for a lease term of nine years and 11 months. The intention was to initiate discussions on lease terms and key maintenance. Sea Harvest responded on 18 October 2023, seeking clarification on certain issues in the offer. A meeting with Sea Harvest took place on 20 October 2023, where they requested time to consult with their board before responding to the Department. Sea Harvest has since made proposals, expressing their readiness to fund the key refurbishment but seeking an offset in their investment, a matter under consideration.
A meeting is planned with Sea Harvest to conclude the lease by the end of the financial year, pending calculations and approval processes. In Hout Bay, the Minister directed establishing a steering committee to strengthen the Department's interface with the community. Engagements and consultations with communities in Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, and the Valley took place. The Steering Committee, representing women, youth, and military veterans, was appointed, and a memo for their formal appointment has been submitted to the Minister.
The lease renewal process is expected to conclude by the end of March 2024, with vacancies advertised by March 2024. The appointment of the management agent is anticipated to go through the supply chain processes, with advertisements planned between December and January. Transformation issues, especially in Hout Bay, have been incorporated into the document, and efforts to encourage DFFE to appoint physical security in all harbours continue. Collaboration with South African Police Services (SAPS) is emphasised, focusing on developing a maintenance and management strategy for the harbours in collaboration with DFFE. Additionally, discussions with National Treasury are ongoing to reinforce revenue collection for harbour maintenance.
[See presentation document for more detail]
Briefing by the Robben Island Museum (RIM)
Prof. Saths Cooper, Chairperson of RIM Board, commenced his presentation by expressing the purpose of the presentation is to provide updates and responses to the issues raised by Adv. Sharma and Ms Penxa. It is acknowledgeable that these issues, almost all of which were presented, are longstanding and have persisted for many years. The presentation aims to shed light on the problematic nature of engaging with the TFMC and to highlight how the current approach adopted by DPWI has negatively impacted the iconic status of Robben Island. The CEO emphasised the importance of involving DFFE in areas where accountability lies with them. Specifically, managing horticulture and ecosystem aspects should fall under DFFE due to Robben Island's unique status as a World Heritage site. The CEO is poised to guide the Committee through key areas to provide a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by Robben Island. This presentation aims to prevent the recurrence of past issues, as identified during the Committee's visit earlier in the year. The CEO is ready to delve into the details and clarify the depth and nature of the problems for the Committee's better understanding.
[See presentation document for more details]
Ms Abigail Thulare, CEO of RIM, introduced her team members who would provide support as necessary. Providing a brief background, she described Robben Island as a 618-hectare island, with 45% covered by the built environment, including houses, cemeteries, roads, and quarries. The island is responsible for 479 buildings, encompassing various functions such as offices, accommodation, storage, retail, and recreation. Additionally, historic sites, quarries, banishment landscapes, landing strips, graves, Karamat, churches, and environmental aspects like horticulture contribute to the island's unique composition. Being a marine protected site declared in 2019, Robben Island must comply with stringent legislation by the DFFE.
Moving on to the challenges discussed during the Portfolio Committee's visit to Robben Island, the presentation highlighted power generation limitations and the island's higher dependency on diesel. This dependence results in increased costs and expenditures covered by transfer payments from DSAC. The discussion also addressed water availability and sustainability concerns, emphasising the need for revenue generation strategies to reduce dependence on fiscus support and ensure the island's long-term sustainability.
The report also touched on the maintenance of generators, noting the appointment of DPWI contractors for their management and the successful restoration of previously non-functional generators. The generators now have a combined capacity of 450, contributing to powering the island's facilities. This comprehensive overview provides a clear understanding of the challenges and progress made in addressing power generation issues on Robben Island. Their predominant challenge revolves around ensuring water sustainability on the island, given their significant annual influx of visitors, which averages more than 230 000. This figure is expected to rise in the current financial year. Adequate water supply, including the provision of ablution facilities, is crucial to facilitate the needs of our visitors. Additionally, the ongoing occupancy of houses by staff members places a consistent demand on the island's water resources, intensifying the importance of addressing water challenges promptly. Currently, they affirm that water scarcity remains a persistent challenge on the island. To alleviate this, water needs to be transported from the mainland every two weeks, incurring cost implications that RIM must absorb. The transport of water is contingent on the availability of their cargo boat, considering weather conditions. These dependencies significantly impact their operations.
To address this challenge, they have explored alternative sources, specifically boreholes. There are a total of 11 boreholes on the island. And they have successfully revived three of these boreholes, contributing to narrowing the water scarcity gap. The three resuscitated boreholes collectively produce 800 to 1 000 litres per hour each day. If the remaining seven boreholes undergo similar revitalisation, they anticipate an increase exceeding 6 000 litres per hour per day. This strategy aligns with the projected rise in visitor numbers, especially during the peak season from November to February. Another significant concern revolves around the escalating costs associated with the transportation of potable water. Since the commencement of the current financial year, they have incurred expenses amounting to 200 000. This considerable financial burden is exacerbated by maintenance challenges, particularly with the toilet systems requiring replacement. Consequently, during the peak season, they opt to rent ablution facilities to mitigate these challenges.
It is crucial to note that they currently possess two reservoirs, each with a capacity of one million litres, which have undergone full decontamination using water produced from the existing desalinisation plant. These reservoirs play a vital role in addressing their water supply needs. During normal seasons, they typically capture between 75 000 and 90 000 litres per day. However, during peak seasons, this increases to a range of 120 000 to 150 000 litres per day to meet heightened demand. Additionally, the second reservoir, with a capacity of 900 000 litres, has been commissioned and decontaminated.
Regarding the desalinisation plant, when the Committee visited, there were challenges related to waiting for imported membranes. Since installing new membranes and filters in August and October this year, the plant has faced intermittent issues. The maintenance contractor appointed by DPWI is struggling to manage the plant effectively due to compatibility issues arising from various components. In response to these challenges, RIM management deemed it necessary to seek an independent opinion on the desalinisation plant's current state and potential lifespan. The original equipment manufacturer conducted a detailed analysis, revealing the need for capacity augmentation to ensure the plant's optimal functioning. To extend its lifespan by another five to 10 years, an investment of 3.5 million is required. This analysis was imperative before considering the procurement of a new desalinisation plant, taking into account market rates and the overall sustainability of our water infrastructure.
Moreover, addressing the issue of the turnaround time required for the augmentation of the desalinisation plant, they anticipate a 14-week turnaround. This timeframe considers the necessary procurement processes that must be diligently followed. Another salient concern raised pertains to the delays in the implementation of capital works. Given the intrinsic connection between capital works and maintenance, the integrated infrastructure master plan must holistically address both aspects. This approach ensures accurate scoping and phased spending, facilitating effective monitoring.
The current allocation for Robben Island's infrastructure capital works, funded through DSAC’s conditional grant, stands at 71.732 million. This funding aligns with the user asset management plan projects slated for the 2023/24 financial year. Notably, these projects are earmarked predominantly for the final quarter, with an expected expenditure of nearly 70% of the grant funding by that time. A key focus of the turnaround strategy is diversifying revenue sources beyond reliance on the fiscus. This involves implementing the adaptive reuse programme, leveraging existing infrastructure for activities such as providing accommodation and hosting meetings. Further, an additional 1.37 million has been allocated for environmental management within the same grant through ongoing engagements. This allocation emphasises the critical dependence on the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) for environmental support. The overarching question of custodianship – whether it lies with DSAC, DPWI, or DFFE – underscores the complexity of the institutional framework. Given the substantial reliance on diesel for power generation, a dedicated budget of 9.137 billion, sourced from the operational grant, has been earmarked to cover the essential diesel requirements on the island.
Currently, they find themselves in the initial stages (stages one to two) of the adaptive reuse project, a pivotal component of their turnaround strategy. This project targets the Multi-Purpose Learning Centre, the guest house, and five houses earmarked for unlocking value by accommodating visitors to the island. She said they are also focusing on the village precinct, where the identified houses are located, including A1, a key stop for island visitors. Their objective is to enhance the interior of Alpha1, transitioning it into a restaurant to diversify their product offerings. The expected completion of these interior works is set for the end of the financial year.
Looking ahead, the subsequent stages (three to six) will follow, and practical completion of the designated sites, primarily involving interior enhancements, is anticipated by the financial year's conclusion. It is crucial to note the intricate relationship between capital projects and intensive remedial maintenance works, underscoring the importance of integrating these efforts. Additionally, in navigating capital projects, compliance with environmental regulations is paramount. As Robben Island is a marine protected site, DFFE plays a vital role in ensuring adherence to relevant laws. Notably, construction activities are restricted between May and August due to the island's breeding season of various bird species. This regulatory constraint necessitates careful project planning to accommodate a limited construction window, impacting overall project delivery.
The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) regulates Robben Island as a heritage site. Compliance requirements and approval processes precede any construction work. Adhering to these processes is crucial for maintaining the island's heritage status. Highlighting their role in job creation, they have generated 31 jobs since 01 April 2023, with 85% belonging to designated groups as per BBEEE requirements. Job creation is expected to increase exponentially as they progress towards completing 70% of capital projects. The table displays the breakdown of jobs created, indicating 128 jobs in the 23/24 period. Robben Island, designated a critical infrastructure asset, emphasises the need for partnerships and stakeholder support. Various partnerships with government departments and entities ensure holistic protection, sustainability, and upkeep of the island. Partnerships include the DFFE, with a focus on marine conservation, sea bed research, and biodiversity management conservation.
Collaborating with South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Navy and ISA is crucial for site protection. Proposals for a satellite presence of the SAPS on Robben Island are under consideration. Engagements with the South African Navy and ISA aim to maximise the value derived from these partnerships. Discussing the collaboration with the DPWI, 12 DPWI general workers have assisted in horticulture management. This interim arrangement is pending further guidance for maintenance in the short to medium term. DPWI has allocated R152 million over three years for maintenance. Currently, 708 maintenance calls have been logged, with 95 outstanding. However, ten calls have not been approved due to budgetary constraints and contractor availability. She highlighted the critical nature of maintenance for preserving Robben Island's outstanding universal value and authenticity. While DPWI has allocated R152 million over three years, challenges in call approval persist due to budgetary constraints. The hope is for prompt resolution of these budgetary issues.
In light of previous engagements, they proposed re-evaluating their current arrangements. Currently reliant on Section 17 of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act of 2007 (GIAMA), which permits the devolution of powers, they believe that a reconsideration is warranted. The aim is to address the numerous dependencies impacting timely maintenance, aligning with the DPWI mandate. Their last meeting occurred in July 2023, with ongoing monthly oversight meetings to stay abreast of maintenance issues and capital project implementation. Addressing pertinent matters, despite scoping for asbestos removal and a financial feasibility exercise, outcomes have not been shared with RIM. Their primary concern lies in understanding the project's implications and, more crucially, the projected timelines. Currently, interim arrangements, supported by DSAC and the relevant division or unit, have successfully secured exposed areas, ensuring visitor safety. However, obtaining clarity on project completion timelines remains pivotal for medium to long-term planning.
She concluded by saying that the upkeep of Robben Island's built and natural environment demands substantial investment. Active participation from their primary stakeholders in executing their remits is essential. They appreciate this opportunity to update the Committee on the progress post-visit and extend their gratitude. She concluded her presentation.
[See presentation document for more details]
Ms M Siwisa (EFF) greeted everyone resent in the meeting. She said she would keep her input short because engaging in a presentation remotely can be challenging, but she would like to touch on a concern raised by one of the colleagues who attended the on-site visit. It echoes a familiar issue they have encountered at other locations such as Telekom towers. There appears to be a notable lack of communication among the various departments responsible for small harbours, including Robben Island. This communication gap extends to areas like maintenance, property status, and related matters. She said they have observed a pattern where information from one department contradicts that from another. It might be beneficial for these departments to convene, collaboratively addressing and resolving the pertinent issues. This is the first concern.
Secondly, she addressed the recurring issue where interventions are initiated only after oversight visits. This raises concerns about DPWI being reactive rather than proactive. It is disconcerting to note that plans, budgets, and actions presented at the meeting largely respond to observations made during the Committee's oversight visit. As emphasised by the Chairperson of the Board of Robben Island and reiterated by the previous presenter (Ms Penxa), these challenges are longstanding. The fact that there are calls logged for urgent issues, yet they cannot be addressed due to budget constraints, underscores the need for a proactive approach. Waiting until the next financial year to address pressing concerns indicates a reactive stance.
Any household or organisation should have provisions for day-to-day operations and unforeseen urgent matters. The Department should strive to be proactive and address issues promptly, aiming for a proactive response rate of 100%. She expressed concern about the prolonged delays in addressing issues after oversight visits. It is disheartening to hear that negotiations between departments are yet to take place even after the oversight visit. The urgency of the matter should prompt immediate action rather than prolonged discussions. There was a mention of a pending meeting involving the DFFE, indicating a potential lack of agency in addressing critical matters promptly. This raises the question of whether there is a designated agency within the Department or other relevant departments to expedite the resolution of issues concerning small harbours and Robben Island. As a heritage site, Robben Island's status should command swift and efficient resolution processes. The revelation that plans for a restaurant on Robben Island are only commencing now, prompted by the oversight visit, is concerning. A site with such historical significance and high visitor numbers should have long-established facilities, including proper dining options – waiting until prompted by oversight raises questions about the efficiency of the planning and implementation processes. With its rich historical background, Robben Island should be a source of pride and exemplify seamless management and development processes.
She is deeply concerned about the current trajectory, fearing that they might witness another heritage site's decline, despite the revenue it generates. Specifically, when considering Robben Island, a place where every visitor pays an entrance fee, there should be a significant income stream. It raises the question of how much revenue Robben Island generates on average, and she would appreciate access to financial statements to gain a comprehensive understanding of its financial health. Given its historical significance, Robben Island should be a model of excellence. Instead, they are grappling with operational issues that were apparent during the Committee's oversight visit. It is disheartening to think that such a crucial heritage site is not receiving the attention it deserves. She emphasises that both DPWI and DSAC must take immediate action to address the challenges facing Robben Island. Without urgent intervention, they risk the deterioration of this iconic site. The fear is that, if left unattended, they may eventually hear distressing news about Robben Island's closure or even its transfer to private ownership. It is imperative that decisive steps be taken promptly to safeguard the future of Robben Island. She ended her discussion.
Mr S Seitlholo (DA) asserted that DPWI should take a leading role in coordinating with the DFFE and DSAC, particularly concerning the maintenance, nature, and extent of heritage sites or any assets under the responsibility of DPWI. Observing a reactive approach to the various challenges discussed within the Committee is disconcerting, whether they relate to abandoned buildings, land parcels, or informal settlements on DPWI-owned properties. This is not the first instance where an entity has expressed interest in assuming responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Robben Island. During the two budget vote debates, even the Speaker of the National Assembly highlighted the need for amendments to GIAMA to enable Parliament or the Secretary of Parliament to manage assets currently under DPWI custodianship. This recurring theme underscores the need for a more proactive approach to address the complex issues associated with heritage sites and other assets.
Despite acknowledging the will to address these matters, the presentations often lack the necessary actions required to implement these proposed solutions. It is crucial to bridge the gap between intentions and execution to ensure the effective management and preservation of critical assets like Robben Island.
He emphasised the need for the Department to be transparent and proactive in coordinating efforts with relevant assistant departments. He sought assurance that the Department would take a leading role in collaboration. Regarding Robben Island's request to take over certain management responsibilities, he urged the Department to share the response and reasons behind it. Expressing concern about the department's performance, he highlighted the importance of avoiding recurring issues and sought a commitment to address longstanding challenges. He expressed disappointment at the absence of DFFE and DSAC from the meeting, emphasising the need for the responsible departments to be present when matters concerning a heritage site like Robben Island are discussed.
He reiterated the importance of the DPWI taking a leading role in coordinating efforts with sister departments. He emphasised the need for DPWI to provide evidence of their coordination efforts to address longstanding issues, expressing the expectation that the Department should be proactive in resolving challenges. He expressed disappointment over the lack of communication regarding the change in the ADG. He highlighted the absence of a permanent DG for a significant period, noting that it contributes to the challenges faced by the Department. He concluded his discussion.
Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) commenced by echoing the same concerns raised by Mr Seitlholo regarding the absence of DFFE and DSAC. She acknowledged the importance of joint initiatives and responsibilities related to Robben Island. Moving on to the discussion on small harbours, she highlighted security concerns during the Committee's physical visit. Despite the presence of tactical security services, she observed that poachers continued their activities and even posed threats. She questioned the effectiveness of current security measures and suggested that additional personnel or alternative measures might be necessary to address crime at the harbour.
As Committee Members, they acknowledge the importance of market-related lease charges, but they caution against a scenario where they inadvertently drive lease holders away, especially in small rural harbours. While they support market-related leasing rates, they are concerned about potential unintended consequences, such as the emptying of rural small harbour buildings leading to increased vandalism and unemployment. They emphasise the need for considerations tailored to SMMEs owned by previously disadvantaged individuals. Leases for emerging businesses owned by such entrepreneurs should be affordable, and they encourage the DPWI to explore additional support measures for these entrepreneurs, particularly black and women-owned SMMEs.
Regarding the proposed review of tariff timeframes, they express their apprehension and seek clarification on when and how the tariffs will be reviewed. They have raised this concern with DFFE; given its competency in this matter, they appreciate the deployment of 181 EPWEP participants to small harbours, but they note that there are still numerous vacancies. They suggest that not all vacancies necessitate highly skilled or qualified personnel. Therefore, they propose that EPWP participants be considered for low-skilled and unskilled positions, such as cleaners, to ensure a more inclusive employment approach and facilitate new entrants into the system.
They observe the extensive vandalism in various small harbours and inquire about the restoration plans for these buildings. Transitioning to Robben Island, they express concern about the reported revival of the steering committee in June, with the last meeting held in July. They seek clarification on whether it was a genuine revival or a mere box-ticking exercise, emphasising the need for information on the Committee's meeting frequency and plans. Addressing the historical presence of DPWI officials on Robben Island, they inquire about the circumstances that led to their departure and whether there are plans to reintroduce officials for on-site maintenance. Specifically, they ask about the restoration of the workshop to enhance service delivery on the island. Additionally, they seek clarity on the budget allocation and control for capital works and maintenance on Robben Island, emphasising the importance of understanding the budgetary framework. She concluded her discussion.
The Chairperson noted the issue of security at Hout Bay small harbour has been highlighted. While she did hear the regional manager's presentation, she would appreciate a more explicit programme. During their visit, the municipality mentioned having plans for the entire area, including buildings owned by the Department. These structures are currently unused and face continuous vandalism. She is interested in understanding the Department's plans for this land. Hout Bay holds significant potential. And if the Department were to collaborate with the municipality, substantial progress could be achieved. Unfortunately, this aspect was not clearly addressed in the Department's presentation. In addition, she would like to inquire about the capital works and maintenance budget for Robben Island. Understanding the allocation, control, and decision-making processes related to this budget would be beneficial. Further, concerning the Robben Island steering committee, she would like to know about the frequency of meetings and the practical implementation of the committee's plans.
Coming to Robben Island, she began by expressing her dissatisfaction with the Department's response to the Robben Island issues. The report provided seems to only detail activities that transpired in November, particularly around 01 and 02 November. Her concern is whether any prior meetings or actions were taken on the matters they raised before November. For instance, the Saldana visit involving both the Department and the Minister was notable. Still, it appears that the urgency and reality of the Robben Island concerns were not adequately addressed. During their visit, the issue of a long-term plan for a bridge to Robben Island was discussed. There is a particular location with the shortest distance, potentially around seven kilometres, where such a bridge could be constructed. This bridge could not only facilitate easier access but also play a crucial role in preserving the heritage site. They inquired about plans for this bridge during their visit, and it was mentioned that there were prior considerations. However, the current presentation lacks information on whether this is part of the long-term plans of both departments.
Turning to the Museum, she said that it is evident that there is untapped potential for increasing visitor’s numbers. Multiple historical sites on the island offer an opportunity to enhance the tourist experience.
While there was mention of only one part working during their last visit, exploring the potential of other historical areas to attract more visitors is crucial. To conclude, she appreciated the efforts being made to address some of the concerns raised. However, she said that there remains a need for more proactive and comprehensive measures to ensure the preservation and promotion of Robben Island as a significant historical site.
Prof. Cooper appreciated the questions from the Members and said that he would provide insights, particularly regarding Robben Island. He said that the Committee Members have aptly identified the challenges inherited by the current management and the Robben Island Council. The current management team was appointed between the end of 2022 and the present year, while the current council assumed office in July of the previous year.
Regarding the suggestion about a bridge to Robben Island, he said it is indeed under consideration. This initiative falls within the medium to long-term planning, and discussions are underway with the ISA team, who are experts in the domain. A public-private partnership is envisioned for its realisation, and ISA advises on its workability. Importantly, it may involve an electric or rail system for transportation, taking into account the Members’ concerns about water and electricity on the island.
He emphasised that, concerning Robben Island, there is a need to consider alternatives to expanding the power supply infrastructure. While two additional generators are being commissioned, this approach contradicts the national leadership's focus on environmental sustainability and reducing carbon footprints. Given that Robben Island is a threatened, diminishing island, a more environmentally friendly solution, such as increasing battery capacity to achieve 100% power, is recommended. This not only aligns with environmental goals but also offers cost savings and a reduction in diesel-related expenses. The challenge with desalinisation is another area of concern. Despite having purchased filters from France over a year ago, the contracted providers have yet to achieve 100% water quality. It is suggested that engaging local providers could offer a more efficient solution. This issue ties into the broader concern raised during the visit to Robben Island earlier this year about job creation and the accountability of contracted services. The prevailing approach of awarding contracts to large entities without direct accountability has proven inefficient, with assets diminishing. The shift towards employing artisans, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians directly on the island is advocated for as a more effective and accountable strategy.
He indicated that, notably, the previous Minister of Public Works, Ms Patricia De Lille, who is now the Minister of Tourism, had halted the total facilities management contract. Robben Island is fully capable of managing its affairs. With direct oversight, this approach has effectively reduced reliance on the fiscus by 50% and increased direct revenue by 55% in the last financial year ending in March. This emphasis is on moving away from reliance on external service providers and opting for a workforce directly employed by Robben Island, particularly skilled individuals who can contribute to the island's maintenance and development.
He strongly advocates for a shift in the Department's approach, moving away from relying on external companies to hire personnel and instead directly employing individuals. This change is seen as a pivotal move that can significantly contribute to addressing the high unemployment rate and bridging the rich-poor gap in our country. The prevailing practice of awarding contracts to external entities often leads to a 50% markup, hindering more people from being employed. This country faces the challenge of the highest unemployment rate globally and one of the widest rich-poor gaps. To address these issues, it is crucial to entrust responsibility and ensure full accountability for the allocated funds. The Department should prioritise value for money, which can be achieved by directly employing skilled individuals rather than going through intermediaries.
In the first financial year of their tenure, they have made substantial progress. The Annual Financial Statements (AFS) for Robben Island have been approved and passed by the Auditor-General (AG), with only one outstanding matter related to wasteful expenditure on one of the ferries. Consequence management is actively being pursued for this irregular expenditure, demonstrating their commitment to accountability. The AG has expressed satisfaction, and the AFS (annual financial statement) will be made immediately available to members.
It is disconcerting to hear concerns raised by ex-political prisoners about missed opportunities for a partnership between DPWI and former political prisoners to contribute to work on the island. Despite previous Ministers stopping certain contracts and the current Minister being aware of these decisions, other issues or challenges appear to persist. He asserts that Robben Island Council and its management are fully capable of being held accountable for all funds received, as demonstrated by the reduction in reliance on the fiscus and the potential for self-reliance. The frustration expressed by many of them stems from the perception that the current approach resembles a situation where an infant in a classroom cannot act independently. He believes that, as a responsible council, they can take full accountability for public funds, and that DSAC shares confidence in their ability to do so. Addressing any lingering shenanigans or challenges is imperative to ensure effective and transparent financial management.
He urged the Portfolio Committee to collaboratively work with them towards restoring Robben Island to its esteemed position. They must cease paying exorbitant rents to entities like Growth Point, especially for offices leased under agreements dating back to the 99-year lease of the V&A Waterfront. In the upcoming year, the plan is to have their staff utilise their facilities, even though some are currently unusable due to prolonged neglect. The Department acknowledged the lapse around 2030, marking a decade of wasteful and irregular practices that hinder their accountability. Robben Island, as a departmental entity, seeks to be fully accountable. They on the Portfolio Committee to address any shenanigans at the core of these issues. The Speaker also visited the island and expressed concern about these matters, prompting them to request Parliament, the ultimate oversight body, to provide guidance on their future. They cannot perpetuate failed systems and they need to chart a new course. The current logging system, with over 1 000 call logs presented by Adv Sharma, is an internal tool for tracking issues and should not be public. By holding responsible staff directly accountable and employing the necessary skills for maintenance and refurbishment, they can enhance employment at various levels, particularly in artisanal roles.
They are committed to prudent financial management, reducing expenses significantly, and redirecting funds towards the island's sustainability. And their aim is to achieve a surplus of income over expenditure, allowing them to reinvest and undertake medium to long-term plans currently on hold due to these challenges. He vowed not to allow a single cent to be misspent, striving for a future where Robben Island thrives. He concluded his response.
Ms Thulare addressed the questions raised, starting with Ms Siwisa's inquiry regarding the restaurant on the island. She said they currently have facilities in the form of a kiosk at Alpha1, where visitors can grab refreshments during their visit. However, considering the extended duration of the island visit, they are exploring introducing a restaurant. This addition is part of the adaptive reuse project, which aims to diversify assets beyond the existing Alpha1 kiosk. Concerning the budget cycle and revenue generation, it is important to note that, as a Schedule 3A public entity, any revenue they generate is returned to National Treasury. During the financial year-end processes, they apply to retain surplus funds. However, approval from the National Treasury is contingent upon demonstrating the benefits and specifying the reallocation needs, especially for critical areas like capital infrastructure.
She indicated that they engaged with the new national Minister, Minister Zikalala, regarding the devolution of powers, upon his appointment. While there was initial openness to the idea, the ministry highlighted that management responsibilities could be considered. However, challenges may arise without a corresponding budget allocation from the DPWI vote. It is essential to avoid setting themselves up for failure by agreeing to arrangements without the necessary financial support.
In response to the inquiry regarding DPWI staff in 2013 and the Island workshop, she said it is important to note that the island workshop is presently available but is currently utilised by on-site contractors due to the ongoing call log locking under the current interim arrangements. In 2013, a shift occurred with introducing a new model involving total facilities management companies or an outsourced model by DPWI. Consequently, all DPWI employees had to vacate the island, returning in 2015 under the newly appointed total facilities management company. Following the contract's expiration, RIM absorbed some of the general workers. As an interim arrangement, which was a decision made by the previous management, 12 employees were absorbed, and currently, only seven of those general workers remain.
Regarding managing the CapEx budget, the capital expenditure budget is sourced through the DSAC via the Capital Infrastructure Grant, a conditional grant. It is managed under Programme Two, the infrastructure programme, through internal budget monitoring processes and regular budgeting procedures. Quarterly reports are submitted to DSAC, and accountability is maintained through quarterly interface meetings with the department. She concluded her response.
Mr Richard Sizani, Acting DG, addressed the concerns Dr Cooper raised regarding the facility management issue during the recent meeting. In response to Dr Cooper's comments, he assured that he has listened carefully to his concerns, and he appreciated the clarification provided by the CEO on the historical information related to this matter. Dr Cooper's passion and commitment to the issue have not gone unnoticed, and Mr Sizani wanted to express his gratitude for bringing these concerns to their attention. It is important to note that outsourcing facilities management is a policy matter currently under consideration. While the Department has not yet granted this request, he acknowledged the ongoing discussions and requests from various departments regarding this issue. Dr Cooper's strong words and dedication to this cause will be reported to the Minister, highlighting the urgency and importance of addressing the concerns raised.
He understands that his officials will provide their official status and position on the matter. Despite the official response, he wanted to assure Dr Cooper that his input and concerns would be conveyed to the Minister. He values the insights provided during the meeting and is committed to ensuring that all perspectives are considered. He concluded.
Ms Penxa initially addressed the matter of the maintenance budget, expressing concern about the current budget constraints within the Department. As of the end of October, she noted that the budget for day-to-day maintenance was depleted. Specifically, Cape Town was at 118%, and the rural office was at 1018%, exceeding the wages budget by R63 million. To address this, letters were sent to clients to alert them to the budgetary constraints, emphasising the need for proactive and responsible financial management.
She highlighted ongoing efforts within the Department to identify alternative funding sources. Meetings have taken place with the office of the CFO, the DGG, and CPM construction management to explore the possibility of reallocating funds from other budget items with potential under-expenditure. She emphasised the importance of responsible financial management to avoid exceeding the budget, emphasising the legal implications under the PFA. In response to the received correspondence from the CEO, she conveyed that the Department acknowledged the receipt and is committed to engaging further with clients. Plans for a workshop were outlined, providing a platform to discuss these financial challenges openly. It was stressed that prioritisation would be applied, focusing on crucial and critical areas to ensure effective resource allocation.
Regarding the issue of poaching and crime at Hout Bay Harbour, the representative expressed regret that the DFFE was not present at the meeting. She acknowledged the tactical response security deployed and mentioned ongoing efforts to appoint service providers to enhance security measures at the harbour. She emphasised the importance of collaboration with DFFE to address these challenges effectively.
In response to Ms Van Schalkwyk’s query about measures to incentivise small businesses, she explained that the Department is reviewing the renewal process on a case-by-case basis. Progress is slow due to companies requesting reductions for various reasons. The Department aims to support tenants, avoiding business closures, as they contribute to employment opportunities. High vacancies at harbours and the extension of the EPWP were discussed as part of the Department's repositioning programme to create more job opportunities.
Concerning vandalised buildings, she outlined plans to put these properties on the open market to attract potential investors. The intention is to encourage refurbishment and development, possibly offering rental holidays as incentives. She cited the IDC building in Hout Bay earmarked for the call of the DFFE as an example, highlighting partnerships between departments to leverage each other's programmes.
She mentioned that the DFFE has established a few co-ops nationwide, including several in the Western Cape, with Hout Bay being one of the largest. The Hout Bay co-op comprises small-scale surf fishermen from Imizamo Yethu. The DFFE's contribution is providing a building to allow these co-ops to establish themselves. She highlighted ongoing collaboration with the DFFE, clarifying that these interactions predate the current meeting. She discussed the IDC initiative and other co-ops in the province, emphasising the Department's longstanding engagement in these initiatives. The plan for Hout Bay involves appointing a management agent responsible for both managing the harbour and attracting investors. This process is preceded by a crucial social facilitation phase involving community engagement to ensure project success. The Department recognises the importance of community involvement in any harbour project, and establishing a committee ensures community buy-in.
The next steps include presenting the concept of the management agent to the community, seeking their input, and explaining the benefits that will accrue to the surrounding communities. The approach involves ongoing community participation in harbour management and daily operations. This community-centred strategy is applied to Hout Bay and is hoped to be a model for developing plans for strategic harbours with significant potential, such as Saldana and Hermanas. The focus is on bringing in management companies, working in conjunction with the Department, to attract investments. These responses address the questions raised by the Members. She concluded her response.
As they were about to round off, the Chairperson made a few comments. Firstly, she highlighted the absence of the DFFE and DSAC which is concerning, especially given the issues related to harbours, DPWI and Robben Island. And this will be highlighted in the report to address the lack of responsiveness from these departments. Secondly, the Committee expresses discontent with the outsourcing approach, particularly in the context of job losses and high unemployment in South Africa. There's a call to reconsider this strategy and focus on job creation instead. The Committee previously questioned the need for an external implementing agent when there is a capable entity within the Department, and this concern persists. Another consideration is the impact of introducing a management agent on existing harbour masters or mistresses. The potential unemployment of these individuals needs careful consideration when exploring solutions to the raised issues.
Lastly, she said, while acknowledging the progress made, there is room for improvement, especially concerning the RIM. The Committee stresses the significance of Robben Island in South Africa's history and the need for swift action to address challenges and enhance the heritage site, particularly in anticipation of the country’s 30th anniversary of freedom. She appreciated the attendance and responses from the DM, the ADG, the Chairperson and the CEO of the Robben Island Museum, and their respective teams. The Chairperson released the delegations from the meeting.
The Committee considered a previous set of minutes.
Ms Van Schalkwyk and Mr Seitlholo moved and seconded, respectively.
The minutes were adopted.
Closing Remarks from the Chairperson
The Chairperson concluded the meeting by expressing gratitude to the Members for their active participation, insightful questions, and valuable comments on the report under discussion. This level of engagement demonstrated their commitment to fulfilling their oversight responsibilities over the Department and its entities. The Chairperson expressed disappointment regarding the absence of the relevant departments expected to participate in the meeting. In closing, the Chairperson conveyed appreciation for the time dedicated to the meeting.
She reminded Members of the upcoming physical meeting, asserting that apologies related to load shedding would not be accepted. She thanked all Members for their contributions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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