The State-owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), has signed a R200-million agreement with MAN Truck & Bus South Africa to procure 110 Lion’s Explorer intercity buses for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The first four locally assembled buses will be delivered this month, with the remainder to roll off the production line by April next year.

The global sports event kicks off in June 2010.

The vehicles are to be used initially as general 2010 spectator buses by Prasa bus-subsidiary Autopax, and then later on in urban public transport systems in various cities and surroundings.

The order also includes a service level and maintenance agreement through the MAN network.

Intensive training of more than 220 Autopax drivers will be conducted before the World Cup.

“We are proud of the fact that we have secured this major order in conjunction with the soccer World Cup,” says MAN South Africa CEO Thomas Hemmerich.

The Explorers’ chassis are made in Germany, and with the bus bodies produced locally at the MAN plant in Midrand, he adds.

Prasa group CEO Tshepo Montana says the order satisfies “the requirements of the FIFA World Cup and, subsequently, the need for urban public transport renewal in the country”.

The MAN Lion’s Explorer is an intercity bus with right-hand steering, and has been developed specially for Southern African driving conditions.

The bus has a fully air-suspended front-engine chassis with three axles.

The bus can seat up to 79 people.

All vehicles have air-conditioning, or forced-air ventilation.

The bus is powered by a MAN D20 common-rail engine offering 310 horsepower, which complies with Euro 3 emission standards.

In a local market that totals 1 500 buses a year, MAN plans to sell around 500 vehicles during the course of the year, which will give it a 30% market share.