It’s time to clear the air
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Oudtshoorn. 8 May 2012. 08h00. When things happen without notice most everyone notices.
There are aircraft in the skies above Oudtshoorn.
Pilots are being trained to exacting standards.
It’s a huge business and enormous amounts of money are involved… Fighter pilots are trained; fighter pilots are worth millions and control expensive national assets.
OO has followed the money and will soon report on the flow and on the beneficiaries.
But for the moment The Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA – also the acronym for Texas Fathers Against Sexual Assault, I kid you not) and the Avic International Flight Academy (AIFA) are seated in Oudtshoorn and represent the single biggest business event for many a year in an economy ravaged by foreign austerity and local viruses.
We need AIFA and TFASA, to be sure. We need AIFA and TFASA for a long time. The AIFA/TFASA initiative may very well be the economic lifeline Oudtshoorn needs.
But Oudtshoorn’s Government is fixing to ruin the opportunity.
For Oudtshoorn’s Government is run by a grade sixer with a cadre of feckless executives and a questionable administration consisting of a Municipal Manager and a Director Corporate Services whose very appointments are being challenged in the High Court, even by the Provincial Minister of Local Government; and a CFO who should not run the finances of a toddler’s lemonade stand.
AIFA did well in securing the use of the Oudtshoorn aerodrome.
AIFA is a company run by professional managers and technical experts and have a duty to secure operating environments at the best possible prices to maximise shareholder wealth through effective and efficient training operations.
The lot on the South Western corner of Voortrekker and Langenhoven was, and remains, no match for the AIFA team.
According to the Municipal Manager, in a letter dated March 16, “no lease has been concluded with AVIC; AIFA or the George Flight Training Centre for the purpose of operating a commercial flight training facility from (sic) the premises”.
The MM also confirms that “no contract document has been entered into and signed with AVIC, AIFC or the George Flight Training Centre for the purpose of arranging a Commercial Flight Training facility from (sic) the premises”.
And, continues the MM, “no income is generated at this stage from AVIC, AIFA or the George Flight Training Centre”.
The Director Corporate Services, in a letter of March 18, confirms the MM’s claim that no contract is in existence and adds the name of TFSA (sic) to the list.
The Director states that “a portion of landing fees, being less than R1,000.00 per month” is being received by the Municipality and that the current contract between the Municipality and the Aero Club “appears to be unsatisfactory”.
AIFA secured Oudtshoorn’s facilities at bargain basement prices. And, frankly, good for them! But it was as easy as relieving oneself in the shower.
When this Goldilocks deal was made, your interests, my longsuffering reader, was represented by The Reverend Noël Pietersen; Llewellyn Coetzee, acting for Thembani Gutas; and Greg Baartman. The sixth grader was Mayor. In their defence it must be said that political instruction from the Comrades Government can not altogether be ruled out. But the owners of the little house; of the beds; of the chairs; of the very porridge, were again the losers.
It should be said that the statement this Thursday last, during a Business Chamber function in theAIFA hanger, by AIFA boss, Willie Marais, that the people of Oudtshoorn are “very privileged” to have the training school in their midst, would have gone down smoother with a reference to the mutual privilege.
OO’s point of view is extremely elementary:
AIFA must pay for the use of the aerodrome, and pay handsomely, as Oudtshoorn offers a unique flight training environment with a high prevalence of cloudless skies, placing it in the top echelon of like facilities anywhere in the world.
Furthermore, the Oudtshoorn aerodrome is adequately established, yet sufficiently fallow to be developed to the specific needs and wants of AIFA, making this aerodrome an ideal base for sustainable long-term operations.
The fees are to be paid to the Municipality to use for the benefit of ratepayers and residents. The proven inability of the Municipality to manage funds is hardly a matter for AIFA’s consideration.
All legislation governing relevant contracts and operations must be strictly adhered to. This includes environmental impact demands; comprehensive safety regulations and ordinances; and public participation as the ratepayers own the aerodrome, being “shareholders” of the Municipality.
This ownership of the very facility AIFA needs for its operations distinguishes AIFA from any other business venture establishing in Oudtshoorn.
The driving principle should be that AIFA be allowed its rightful profits, but not at the instance of ratepayer and resident potential income, and tranquility.
In order to ensure adherence to all relevant eventual agreements and contracts, a peer evaluation committee should be formed with members from AIFA; the Municipality; and the community – represented by ORPA and the Business Chamber.
It’s as easy as that.
Yet again Oudtshoorn’s residents have nearly been sold down the river by incompetent representatives.
The Oudtshoorn-AIFA deal can be secured to the benefit of all parties. But then the deal is to be brokered by Oudtshoorn Business and ratepayers, and AIFA. Clearly the Council is not fit to represent the people of Oudtshoorn.
Oudtshoorn needs a new, party politically independent government.
The current lot – ANC, DA, Icosa and NPP – just ain’t cuttin’ it. And then some.