Aviation Authority airs space problems in Parliament

2016-04-08 17:00

Parliament – A request for more office space on Friday had a parliamentary committee wondering where the money would come from to pay for it.

The request for more space – meaning a new building and a new lease – followed property-related scandals in the past few years.

One of the first questions asked when the SA Civil Aviation Authority told the transport committee on Friday that its offices were bursting at the seams and were impractical, was ''Where will you get the money?''.

The authority is in charge of keeping the country's airspace safe. Its director of civil aviation, Poppy Khoza, said staff worked out of two buildings, 400m apart, in an office park.

Not only had they run out of space, but staff and clients had to continually walk between the two buildings to complete documents required for the authority's regulatory and monitoring work.

The authority controls and regulates civil aviation safety and security and ensures compliance with civil aviation laws. By December 2015, it had issued 31 248 licences. These included helicopter, plane, hot-air balloon and student licences. 

Khoza said the distance between the buildings slowed down the flow of the work considerably. And now there were too many people working in the buildings. A move to a new place of work had become more pressing.

Acting chairperson, ANC MP Goodwill Radebe, immediately asked how it was all going to be paid for.

The authority's chief financial officer, Asruf Seedat, told the committee that it was conscious of the cost issues.

"So, when we look at the alternatives, we will make sure it is affordable."

In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, an operating lease can be taken out for only 10 years. A 20-year lease needs permission from the Treasury.

The authority was looking at land owned by the Airports Company of SA, another state-owned entity, which it would have to go through if it wanted to lease the land.

Two scandals over irregular leases occurred in recent years. An irregular lease for office space for police officers landed then police chief Bheki Cele in hot water. Another lease for offices for the Independent Electoral Commission resulted in the then head of the commission, Pansy Tlakula, stepping down.

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