Transport Minister Jeff Radebe brushed off concerns yesterday about the effect of a power shortage on SA’s readiness for the Soccer World Cup, saying that transport preparations were progressing well .

Eskom’s announcement that it was suspending power cuts has been greeted with scepticism by business and residential consumers as electricity capacity remains tight.

“The d epartment of minerals and e nergy has signed guarantees with Fifa to ensure that power will be provided during 2010,” Radebe said, adding that it was Fifa policy to have dedicated generators for World Cup match venues.

Radebe was speaking after visiting several sites to demonstrate Johannesburg’s readiness for 2010.

Radebe said the taxi recapitalisation programme would meet its goal of scrapping 80% of taxis by 2010. Just 11% of taxis, or 13500 taxis, have been scrapped so far, and the department spent about of R670m last year on the programme. “We started slow, but are gaining momentum,” he said.

This reassurance came after the South African National Taxi Council slammed progress on the controversial programme. The council complained that the R50000 scrapping allowance was insufficient given the cost of new vehicles and “merely renders the operator insolvent”.

The government has embarked on ambitious infrastructure projects to prepare for 2010, upgrading passenger rail and roads, and building a new rapid bus transit system in cities including Johannesburg.

The Bombela Consortium, which is building the Gautrain, has previously expressed concern about the effect of load shedding on its schedule, and Transnet CE Maria Ramos recently identified power cuts as a possible constraint to the business.

Questioned about a worldwide shortage of building materials such as steel, Radebe said contingency measures had been put in place and he was “not worried” about the supply of steel or other material.