Durban brushes off World Cup stadium construction concerns

Construction on Durban’s 2010 soccer World Cup stadium was going full steam ahead and was “not under threat at all”, eThekwini municipality head of strategic projects Julie-May Ellingson said on Tuesday.

She was reacting to reports that the Labour Department had shut down several areas on the construction site, and that the 70 000-seater stadium could, as a result, miss its deadline for completion.

The department’s Siyanda Zondeki said on Tuesday that inspection officers have found instances where the contractor and subcontractors were not complying with safety legislation, and that it had, as a result, issued prohibition notices.

She said that once the notices had been issued, companies had to act immediately.

But Ellingson said that they were “minor issues” that had been blown out of proportion, and that the Labour Department’s concerns would be addressed before the end of this week.

“It will not threaten our construction on site,” she said.

Ellingson added that eThekwini municipality and its lead contractor, Group Five, were continually improving safety on the site. In fact, the stadium project had recently won a safety award, she said.

The Labour Department has clamped down on major construction sites around Durban this week, as part of its nationwide workplace inspections of the construction industry.

Between April 2006 and July 2007, KwaZulu-Natal has recorded a total of 76 accidents in the construction sector. Sixteen employees lost their lives as a result of falls from extreme heights, collapse of structures, or excavations.

The department has already shut down scores of construction sites and issued compliance notices around the country. It described the inspection of construction sites as an “alarming plunge” in labour law compliance.

South Africa is building five new stadiums in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has appointed contractors to construct the stadiums between November 2006 and March this year, which work under tight deadlines to complete the projects in time for the tournament.

Green point contractors halt construction

Meanwhile, the Green Point stadium, in Cape Town, which had been plagued by various problems ranging from politically-linked delays to environmental concerns, also experienced a set back this week when workers illegally downed tools over travel allowances.

Andrew Fenton, from Murray & Roberts, the lead contractor on the project, said on Tuesday that the 800 workers were expected to return to work during the course of the morning.

The unions had agreed that employees would return to work, and they would follow the proper channels to put across their demands, he added.

Fenton also said that the strike, which started on Monday, would not affect the project’s “very tight schedule”.

“Every day is precious to contractors, but it is not too difficult to make up a day or two. But we certainly don’t want unwanted interruptions like this.”

AUTHOR: Mariaan Olivier
DATED: 28th August 2007