DCS convenes a Facilities Lekgotla with implementing agencies to eliminate barriers to effective rollout of its Infrastructure Master Plan

Screen Shot 2023-03-06 at 08.19.07The National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Makgothi Thobakgale presided over the Facilities Lekgotla on 28 February 2023 at Goodwood Management Area, Western Cape to deliberate on the progress pertaining to the Infrastructure Master Plan.

This ground-breaking meeting was attended by DCS senior managers and implementing agencies; namely, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), Independent Development Trust (IDT) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), and was aimed at unlocking blockages that derail the effective rollout of the Department’s Infrastructure Master Plan.
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The aging infrastructure and increasing inmate population in correctional centres put a strain on the available resources and impede the department’s ability to achieve its mandate of ensuring safe and humane incarceration of inmates. It is on this basis that the meeting spent much time deliberating on ways to build efficiency in the DCS infrastructure maintenance programme and the creation of additional infrastructure. Commissioner Thobakgale and the acting Director-General (acting DG) of Public Works and Infrastructure, Alec Moemi agreed on the importance of ensuring that funded projects submitted to agencies are completed within projected timeframes.

Correctional Services has embarked on an Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan to monitor planning, design, delivery and maintenance of its facilities and security infrastructure over a five-year period from 2019/2020 until 2024/2025 financial years.
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In his presentation, acting Deputy Commissioner Facilities Planning and Property, Dr Riaan Botha said that allocations will be divided between DPWI, DBSA, IDT and DCS (own resources) in order to enhance maintenance processes and implementation. He provided progress on the infrastructure projects for the creation of new bed spaces which are currently in construction. These include Parys Correctional Centre which is 85% complete, and Burgersdorp Correctional Centre whose site has been handed over to the contractor.

He further presented a revised strategy on priority projects to be implemented by the agencies including amongst others, the construction of a facility at Lichtenburg with 500 beds; Integrated renewable energy and resource efficiency programme; the installation of standby generators and replacement of incinerators in various correctional centres.
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Agencies presented their turnaround plans to deal with the backlogs, and provided a breakdown on the current status from completed projects to those that have stalled due to various challenges. Amongst challenges raised were lengthy payment processes affecting service providers, delays in nominating DCS officials as members of various procurement committees, a single service provider appointed for various projects which limits the market and increase the risk and result in inadequate programme packages.

Acting Director General Moemi vowed to make correctional services a top priority in the finalisation of projects given the status of the DCS’ dilapidated infrastructure. He stated that Correctional Services needs to be treated as platinum client given the size of its portfolio and the unique pressures it has to contend with as a receiving department. He said he is looking at eliminating unnecessary red tape and improve their service offering to DCS and its sister departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster because they constitute a big percentage of DPWI infrastructure portfolio. “As one of the interventions that will be made, DPWI will immediately employ technological tools and instruments to monitor projects performance and quality of works, and increase capacity to deliver projects through the appointment of multi-grade contractors terms contracts (pre-approved panels) for the existing pipeline as and when required,” said Moemi.

Commissioner Thobakgale said it is time for action adding that a task team with clear timeframes will be formed to eliminate another layer of bureaucratic processes hindering the realisation of new generation correctional facilities. “More efforts need to be invested to unlock all the bottlenecks.
A successful application of these projects will change how government do things, as DCS is known for innovation,” said Commissioner. He further stated that infrastructure is crucial in the implementation of the Self-sufficient and Sustainable Framework (SSSF) including the utilisation of own resources, offender development and offender labour, through the use of state assets to reduce costs to the fiscus and to generate revenue for the Department. He proposed that there should be a combined approach in a form of a tripartite/multilateral agreement which will ensure effective monitoring and evaluation.

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