Government on Wednesday handed Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) and MAN Truck & Bus the contracts to supply 570 buses of the 830-strong fleet, which would transport spectators, officials and players for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at a media conference held in Pretoria, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said that government was providing a R1,4-billion guarantee for the purpose of acquiring the 570 buses from the local subsidiaries of the German companies.

“As you know, the most critical component of our transport preparations for 2010 is the provision of the transport infrastructure, but most importantly the provision of the various modes of public transportation for the World Cup,” noted Radebe.

MBSA would supply the 168 semi-luxury and 292 intercity buses required for the global sports event, and MAN the 110 general spectator buses.

MBSA has a bus assembly facility in East London, while MAN has a plant in Midrand.

An additional 260 buses would be leased from the local bus transport industry for the event, said Radebe. This would include 250 buses for general spectator services, as well as ten semi-luxury coaches, bringing the total fleet for the event to 830 buses.

This was far short of the more than 1 400 buses government envisaged in 2008 to be required for the event.

“We are ecstatic with the outcome of the tender, and are confident that our 168 semi-luxury and 292 intercity buses will contribute highly to government’s goal of hosting the best World Cup ever,” said MBSA president Dr Hansgeorg Niefer.

“In anticipation of the demand for buses, Mercedes-Benz recently took a conscious decision to make a R13-million investment in the dedicated bus manufacturing line at our East London plant. This investment complements the previous investment of R2-billion in the East London plant,” added MBSA bus divisional manager Jan Aichinger.

“Based on our production configuration, Mercedes-Benz guarantees to have all buses completely built and delivered in good time for the soccer World Cup. This order will come as a huge boost to our production schedule in East London.”

Vehicle assembly plants in South Africa had been suffering job losses and declining production levels in recent months, as new vehicles sales dipped dramatically owing to the global recession.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Irma Venter
DATED: 29th April 2009