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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 May 2007
MILITARY BASES: REPAIR & MAINTENANCE PROGRAMME: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Chairperson: Ms T Tobias (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Repair and Maintenance Programme (RAMP Initiative)
Repair and Maintenance Programme (RAMP Initiative), Repair and Breakdown Maintenance Programme (not presented)
The Department of Public Works briefed the Committee on the Repair and Maintenance Programme (RAMP) initiative that the Department had, since 2001, undertaken in respect of Defence Force property. The history, background, identified priority projects, the progress of these projects to date, and the achievements were fully outlined. It was reported that R6.6 million remained in the budget for 2007/08 and that to date R63 million had been expended. Feedback was given from base commanders, and it was noted that one of the major challenges was completing the work within a three year period.
Members asked questions on who determined what the priorities of RAMP were; how BEE companies were drawn into this programme; whether smaller contractors were used and what the status of these contractors was; the skills shortage within the Department of Public Works; the limitations of RAMP; and the relationship between the Departments of Defence and Public Works. It was agreed that further briefings should be arranged on the Department of Defence’s capital projects.
Repair and Maintenance Programme for Military Institutions (RAMP Initiative): Briefing by Department of Public Works (DPW)
Mr Dumisa Dlamini, Programme Manager, DPW briefed the Committee on the Repair and Maintenance Programme (RAMP). This aimed to address the backlog of repair and maintenance to provide effective and efficient facilities. The first investigation had been in 2001. RAMP targeted facilities that were in serious need of repair, and the projects were financed by the Departments of Public Works (DPW), Defence (DOD) and Finance (DOF). Youngsters and budding engineers were involved in and learnt from the projects. Work to the value of R880 million had been completed in RAMP 1 (28 facilities), R1.126 million in RAMP 2 (41 facilities) and R1.345 million (17 facilities.).
IN 2006 more funding had been made available and was allocated to priority projects. Five bases were identified for these projects. So far, 19 contracts had been identified, 8 contracts tendered, 2 contractors appointed, 12 consulting firms appointed, and the expenditure to date was R682 million. The progress to date on each of the projects at Pretoria Military Hospital, Waterkloof Air Force Base, Dunotter regiment, Wynberg Military Hospital, and Middleburg 4 batallion was tabled and explained. The funds budgeted for 2007/08 were R6.6 million. The cash flow updates, achievements and comparative costings were tabled. The achievements, particularly those involving dangerous or ineffective infrastructure were listed. It was stressed that follow on contracts would need to be done, to prevent further deterioration and ensure optimum use of facilities. Feedback from the bases on the work done was given and was put before the Committee. The biggest challenge facing the projects was to assess their progress after three years, as the Department had been criticised for projects running over this time.
The scope of RAMP services was included for the information of the Committee, and the contents, purpose, and levels of information of the Status Quo reports were defined. Examples were presented of the evaluation forms, contracts and tenders. Competitive tenders were required. RAMP had held meetings to try to develop small contractors into this work by awarding companies to contractors, allowing them to be subcontracted, and to assess what percentage of funding was going to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies. RAMP was also setting up a learnership programme, presently only targeted at Pretoria, but would be trying to link RAMP with the National Development Programme and Youth Programmes was being attempted.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Members not to address the financial side of the presentation as the Department of Defence was not present to give a full response. She explained that this briefing had been requested as a result of issues arising from the Annual Report with regard to land and buildings.
Mr Dlamini suggested that the Department could answer the questions in relation to the work for the DOD.
General Van Rensberg, DOD, indicated that a further presentation by the Department of Defence would cover these issues. He mentioned that the Department cooperated well with DPW. .
Mr A Botha (DA) referred to the table for “Waterkloof Air Force base: Repair” and noted that the documents mentioned the Waterkloof Air Base as being the one that handled the President’s movements. However, the Committee had heard that the Waterkloof Air Base was in fact not responsible for the movements of the President. He asked which of these reports was true.
Mr Johan de Wit, Senior Project Manager, DPW, replied that very few flights were taking place from Waterkloof. The President flew from this air base when using small flights, but if he was flying long-distance and on a larger aircraft, he would leave from Oliver Tambo Airport. The Waterkloof runway had not been designed to support heavy aircraft. It would shortly be replaced with another runway.
General van Rensburg confirmed that a Presidential instruction had been issued that from 1 July there would be 18 months to complete the work at Waterkloof.
Mr Botha asked why no mention had been made of repairs to the Waterkloof runway. Mr Botha asked how 15 000 m3 of fuel could have been allowed to have leaked over 15 years into the soil. The “Feedback from the Base Commanders” also indicated that fuel leakage was seen to be a problem.
Mr Dlamini replied that RAMP targeted buildings in particular and he was not able to answer this question.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) asked about the money which was paid for consulting work, and who was doing the work.
Mr Monareng asked who determined the priorities – either of the Departments or the consultants.
Mr M Booi (ANC) asked what was meant by “serious” and “priority” and how these priorities were arrived upon.
Ms K Nadasen, Director: Key Account Management, DPW, replied that the Department of Defence (DOD) had identified the funding, and that the DOD was also responsible for the decision of the priorities to be worked upon.
The Chairperson suggested that further issues on prioritisation should stand over until the DOD was present.
Mr Monareng replied that the blame was continually shifted from one party to another and that was why he had sought clarification of who was deciding on prioritisation.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) commented that the Committee was anxious to avoid a situation where state resources could be used to enrich individuals. He had noted more than ten companies doing the consulting work. He felt that these companies needed to be researched thoroughly.
Mr Dlamini replied that this way forward was to be seen as a strategic intervention.
A member asked when the BEE companies would be included in the projects.
Mr J Schippers (ANC) asked for the percentage of contracts awarded to BEE contractors.
Mr Dlamini replied that these issues were being addressed and affected the whole department, and that all these would be dealt with in an open and transparent manner.
Mr M Booi (ANC) commented on the commitment to BEE and learnership programmes. If the generality of BEE and empowerment were embraced, he asked what would happen to those soldiers who had been wounded or disabled, as he felt that priority should be given to re-
skilling and utilising them so that they could gain options outside the defence sector. He wondered if they were being used as consultants.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) agreed that the DPW needed to think about how to make use of such people.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) said that even thought the DOD was not present at the meeting, some of the issues raised were to do with the Service Corps and the DPW, and he commented that there were also other departments who might also be able to absorb these people. The perception of a skills shortage was a distortion of the truth. Perhaps a commission should be established to investigate the scarcity of skills. Black people needed to be empowered and this needed to be integrated in the strategy of the department.
The Chairperson said that it would be useful to hear from DOD members, some of whom were ex-combatants.
Mr Dlamini replied that the Department was aware that insufficient skills were being tapped and that this had much to do with the registration of skilled workers. The Department was trying to rectify this by making registration easier.
Mr Schippers asked why none of the contractors had been named in the report. He commented that in the past DPW had created opportunities for emerging contractors and he asked what was being done for them now, and what their status might be. Some should surely have been able to emerge as major contractors for the Department.
Mr Dlamini said that there were certain limitations in the way RAMP was run, which had resulted from its design. Much of the civil works programme, such as fixing leaks, did not need to be done by highly sophisticated contractors. These projects created the opportunity for smaller, BEE-compliant companies to be employed. The Department had recently met with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) with the aim of establishing principles for the use of these contractors. It was also trying to establish programmes that would expose the youth to the Department so as to grow skills internally.
Mr Schippers commented that in the past there were “fronting” companies, and he asked how this could be dealt with.
Mr Dlamini commented that the Department was moving away from simply focusing on repair and maintenance towards a strategic management plan. A Bill was to be passed which would allow for changes in management and planned management processes that would be used also as a budgetary tool. This would hopefully minimise the problems currently faced by RAMP.
Mr Booi stated that the military Intelligence and its Security were serious problems needing to be addressed.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked why there was only reference to repairs and not to any building.
Mr Dlamini replied that the Department had other programmes that dealt with building, as well as with aspects such as military intelligence. RAMP was limited to repairs and refurbishment.
Mr Booi asked to what degree the DPW dealt with extremely technical issues and to what extent they took part in the decisions.
Mr Monareng commented that the Committee was not always used to the technical terms being presented.
Mr Ndlovu requested that further meetings include presentations on DOD capital projects.
Mr Booi asked that the relationship between DOD and DPW be properly clarified so that the Committee and the Defence force personnel could know who was to be held accountable for a lack of progress.
The meeting was adjourned.
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