Plans to move military base from Salisbury Island to Richards Bay

This is to make way for the Transnet port authority which has earmarked the site for its expansion in Durban.

This was revealed by the Chief of Navy Admiral Monde Lobese, on Tuesday. He was  speaking ahead of arms forces day festivities billed for Richards Bay from February 15 to 22.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to join festivities on February 21 at Bullion boulevard.

Lobese was joined by South African national defence force chief General Rudzani Maphwanya and his chief of staff Mike Ramantswana on the SA Mendi ship.

“Transnet had approached SA navy last year to discuss this move and asked the navy to reduce its footprint in Durban as they have large plans to develop the Durban port,” said Lobese.

He said the leadership of the navy had approved this as they felt that it would be of benefit to them.

Although plans were still in the infancy stages, this move could span over five years.

“If all goes according to plan we could see this base being built quite soon,” said Lobese.

Lobese also defended the initiative on the bases of testing military capabilities.

“We have a constitutional mandate to safeguard the country and our ability must be tested,” he said.

The SANDF is also participating in the Ex MOSI II, a scheduled nine-day military marrying-up exercise with other countries including Russia and China, also in Richards Bay next week.

The annual Armed Forces event has over the years been hosted in different parts of the country and is expected to make a much-improvedq return after a two-year hiatus which was brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also aimed at bringing the defence force to the people.

Lobese said part of this year’s festivities is to pay tribute to those who perished in SA Mendi. “It stood no chance and sank,” said Lobese.

He said while naval tragedies were nothing strange in the war, it was the manner in which the people had perished and the death toll which made it remarkable.

The South African navy has since 1994 honoured the heroes who perished while serving and losing their lives in military service. They also pay tribute to other members, this has also culminated in two ships being named after some of the heroes.

After the naval commend council has pronouced Richards Bay as the host, work commenced early last year.

“Richards Bay had been pitted against East London and Saldanha ,” said Lobese.

The SANDF says despite the budget woes which have often plagued government entities, they were confident the money to execute this project was being well spent and was also part of its training.

“We continue to do what is expected of us by the people of South Africa despite the budget cuts. We feel the pinch but it’s for the good,” said Maphwanya.

He said they were conscious of how the festivities had grown over the years.

Maphwanya said they were planning to establish a unit to deal with disaster management as this would enhance their operations.

He said the country had often been plunged into a state of disaster and units should be assembled to handle all calamities.

If we utilise the resources which are meant for warfighting. In that way, we won’t be doing a disservice. We would also not have a situation where one says must we go and fight,” said Maphwanya.

Umhlathuze mayor Xolani Ngwezi welcomed the moved taken by the SANDF to stage the commemorative festivities in the area, saying this would present positive economic spin-offs to the city.

“Sectors in hospitality and retail are likely to be bolstered. We also hope that the discussions around the naval island will also progress,” Ngwezi added.

He said uMhlathuze municipality prided itself on being the second biggest municipality to contributing to the economic development of the province.


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Author: editor

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