You are here: Regular Features From the Board Room
From time to time we report on matters the Board wishes to draw to Members' attention.
Your Board met on 05 December 2016 and elected John Saker as Chairperson and Andrew Hauptfleisch as Vice Chairperson. Click here for details of Board, their contact details and portfolios.
The following information was shared with Members who attended the recent Members Information Evening on
01 June. A summary is published in this report for the benefit of those unable to attend. Thank you to John Saker for providing the summary.
Environmental and borehole sustainability update
Drought – closing off of water holes: We have reviewed and closed some boreholes, as have some neighbours, in an effort to protect the veld from over grazing occasioned by a concentration of game around available waterholes. The full season rainfall reported upon in the monthly Reserve Reports indicate that we received only about half of an average season of rain, with little relief forecast for what has become a multi-year dry cycle.
We are acquiring and installing essential equipment in many boreholes to measure and monitor borehole capacity to aid planning and sustainability monitoring.
The “non-electric” elephant cable has been removed from the electric fence in many sections as a trial and to lower repair effort with the current high level of elephant break-ins.
The experiment seems to be working – and elephant incursions are down!
Ingwelala gate upgrade project and sightings board update
The Ingwelala Entrance Gate upgrade will proceed in winter next year. Designs are awaited and there will be full consultation with the neighbours, as is normal practice. We seek primarily to improve the overall aesthetics of the entrance gate and poor working environment for the staff in attendance.
The design must be in line with the current building theme, with an option to upgrade later. Some wood (for emergencies only, like ice) might be sold to Members from a storeroom at the gate and a perhaps a Sightings Board added for viewer interest and convenience.
It is the intention to approach the many members who store obsolete game viewers at Ingwelala to remedy the position within a suitable timeframe by removing these vehicles to allow for much needed space in the workshop parking.
Disability benefits for staff – income replacement quote
We previously reported that we seek to improve the monthly income replacement disability benefit for all staff but are being careful as this will result in an increase in costs from 3.09% to 3.86% of payroll. We have now agreed to bear some part of the current premium to buying better disability cover and to leave unchanged the retirement funding premium.
Building regulations – solar energy review update
The Building Committee is on track to formulate a revised policy for presentation at the AGM on Solar Power applications and limits given the technology advances, particularly of the controllers and also the inverter, but also some improvements in panels.
It is intended to lift the limit on the smaller share blocks (say 6 or lower shares) so as to allow a minimum panel size bigger than allowed by the current rules so that at least a fridge could be powered by all share blocks.
A 10 to 15% increase in maximum solar panel sizes will assist many Members with solar installations at their Bungalows, particularly those with “small” or “too small” installations. Note that as batteries need to be as close as possible to solar panels to increase effectiveness, the rules may need to be changed to allow for a small battery box under the solar pole in new revised or new solar installations.
Also the BC is to consider the undesirability of the running of certain equipment (aircons, TV’s and the like).
WIFI in camp
Matters seem to continue to be congested when the camp is busy. Maybe we have just got used to this situation? Currently we have no plans to change the current set up, mainly for cost reasons. If you have some ideas, please let us know!
Bungalows requiring repair
The Building Committee in February conducted a second general camp inspection of bungalows requiring maintenance and improvement and, in terms of the Use Agreement, the Legal Committee has sent letters to the relevant Bungalow Administrators seeking plans to repair bungalows that are in poor or very poor condition, with some probably uninhabitable.
Nkorho budget 2015/16 and security
It is agreed now throughout Nkorho that the budget is shared on a per hectare basis, and this agreement is in terms of the Nkorho Constitution. It has been implemented already for the current Nkorho financial year.
The two-year term of office of the Chairman of Nkorho and the Umbabat expired in March and rotated to other Nkorho and Umbabat members. The Umbabat Wilderness Conservation Association (Group13) were to take over the Chair and Wardenship of the Umbabat on 15 March 2016, but there have been certain in-house developments within the UWCA in the past months. We are monitoring the position and engaging with the parties to establish the necessary management of the Umbabat.
Our current security arrangements are performing mostly at expectation with a few hiccups along the way in our immediate area. Ntomeni Field Rangers complement has been increased from six to ten rangers. A full time supervisor has been employed to manage the field rangers. This has resulted in higher security costs (shared on a per hectare basis) for Nkorho (and for Ingwelala), but there are of course additional security and conservation benefits.
Nkorho has R200 000 to upgrade facilities and the Board agreed that the Field Ranger Command Centre at Vuka Ingwe be upgraded in any event and with Nkorho funding. The Ntomeni Supervisor is being housed at Nyala (Ingwelala staff house) until the upgrade is completed.
The outpost on Rietvley is operational, thank you to Ndlopfu. There has been an increase in incidents from the North, with poachers coming down from the Phalaborwa area as predicted by Mark Shaw at a recent Members’ Meeting.
There has been some improvement in the grounds and gardens at the main administration complex, the entrance gate and Sibon to follow. Local indigenous plants have been used, and we trust that these improvements have been noticed and appreciated. In addition, this month we will add plenty additional indigenous plants and trees, including ground cover, so a shrubby or bushy appearance will increasingly be more visible.
Proposed new management track (Buffelsbed)
We are preparing a motivational letter to the relevant authorities seeking authority to proceed with the proposed management track on Buffelsbed.
This hoped-for track is on the opposite side of the washed away River Road formerly on the Eastern side, but this time the track will be on top of the Western bank, and not immediately adjacent to the river down the levee. The orientation of the track will avoid entering the limiting activities “within 32 meters of a water course” rule that the NEMBA regulations prescribe.
The area for the aircraft parking apron (hardscape soil) and the perimeter has been marked out and construction of a suitable fence is almost complete. The fence will be roughly the same as the low sloped fence around Sibon camp. There will be space for several large, medium and small aircraft on the secured apron, as well as adjustable tie downs points for aircraft.
Acquisition of surveillance aircraft.
The Ingwelala Management and Staff have previously proposed a fund raising initiative to acquire a surveillance aircraft for the Reserve. The response from Members has been tremendous. So far an estimated R300 000 has been pledged, and further investigations have been undertaken into suitable aircraft to do the job. Qualified and experienced Members in the aviation field are assisting management source the best all round aircraft. Thank you to those involved!
A suitable letter addressed to Members on the arrangements, including a formal donation pledge form and bank details is on its way to those Members who have indicated a pledge and of course to all Members so as to seek further financial support. Please watch for the communications.
We encourage all Members to be as supportive as possible of this Management and Staff initiative.
And a very grateful thank you to all who have already made the pledge – your contribution and enthusiasm certainly helps the project and conservation.
Financial matters and 2016/2017 levies
Occupancy for Sibon for the current financial year is likely to be very good and with a good bottom line that will allow plenty repairs, maintenance and replacements at Sibon. The Feedback Register continues to be very complimentary – thank you – and many items have resulted in job cards for ongoing maintenance.
The current year-to-date to end of April occupancy of 250 bed nights exceeds budget by 15% i.e. much better than expectation. Based on confirmed occupancy for May and June 2016, the full year forecast positive variance will improve by at least 4 nights to achieve 299 nights, maybe with a little luck and last minute deals to 304 nights. This is wonderful and is the highest occupancy in many years – well done to all who helped achieve this result!
We will liaise with Members who are interior designers / décor orientated for some suggestions on an appropriate new “rustic comfort” theme. And we are considering some structural improvements for Sibon e.g. a better braai area in an enlarged Boma, a viewing deck, comfortable furnishings etc. The larger developments will be effected in early 2018 to allow us to fulfill bookings already made.
The April YTD result is considerably ahead of budget YTD on the bottom line and on virtually every other line! Income and Expenditure is better than budget year to date – the final two months will see accelerated project and maintenance spend that will use up the positive variance, as is the normal plan.
We expect that we will end the year with a proper surplus. We have benefitted from some extraordinary trading results, unit sale commissions that have absorbed some unexpected expenditures – more in the audited financial statements in due course.
Levies and Service fees for the next financial year
The Sibon midweek rate will increase by R110 or 6.11% to R1910 and peak rate by R100 only or 2.11% to R4850, the latter low rate increase to encourage even greater peak period occupancy.
Service charges for FY17 will in effect increase about 6% to 7% and some by 8%.
The Board resolved to increase the annual levy by 7.5% per share and to curtail the budget to a near breakeven position (rather than a surplus). This still allows for proper and necessary expenditure but there is some curtailment on projects. This rate of increase reflects the difficult economic circumstances in our economy and which most likely Members have first-hand experience.
Levy increase notices will be published mid-June as is normal.
And Members currently have been advised of the new insurance rates, with responses for any changes to please be made by 8th June so that billings for insurance and the monthly levy can be effected by 1 July 2016, the start of the new financial year.
Development projects and capital expenditure
The Board reviewed a long list of multi tear capital projects for Ingwelala and prioritised the following:
Vuka Ingwe staff accommodation: Ingwelala to contract a professional builder to build additional staff accommodation at Vuka Ingwe. This second unit of four single quarters will be a significant improvement on existing staff accommodation.
Dormitory (staff village): There is no housing for temporary staff/casuals. Ingwelala to contract a professional builder to build a dormitory style unit which will house four men in one room, four ladies in another room, offer separate men’s/ladies bathroom facilities and a kitchen.
Ntomeni Supervisor Unit: The Nkorho Association will contribute R 200 000 (in lieu of rental) and Ingwelala R300 000 towards accommodation for the Ntomeni Supervisor. Ingwelala to contract a professional builder to build a two -bedroom house with lounge, kitchen and bathroom facility near the existing ranger facility.
Guineafowl refurbishment: The quote to refurbish Guineafowl Cottage (3 bedrooms, upgrade bathrooms and kitchen, complete roof) is about R585 000 vs R1 075 000 rebuild at current rate.
There is a need for a fifth management couple for maintenance work and fee generation and we will use the Nyala staff accommodation when the Ntomeni Manager relocates to the security center, so no additional unit required.
Fuel Bowsers – replacement hose pumps: The fuel bowsers are very old and with limited availability of spares and have become very expensive to repair. Pump #3 is in a poor state (rusted). Pump #2 is used the most but has mechanical failure intermittently. It has become necessary to review the replacement of hose pumps. The quote dated 20/4/16 reflects R113 373 excluding delivery and installation.
Sewerage system Sibon: The septic tanks are problematic at Sibon. There is a need for a proper system to be put in place to effectively manage sewerage.
Tennis court - approximately R65 000 to resurface.
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