Ahead of a meeting of the Fifa executive committee on October 23 and 24 2008 that will hear updates on the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, the country has claimed progress on transport infrastructure and other crucial areas.

Fifa said on its website that, after inspections in September and October and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) board meeting on October 3 2008, the Fifa executive would be given updates on preparations for the 2010 event as well as those for the Fifa Confederations Cup 2009.

South Africa’s BuaNews quoted transport minister Jeff Radebe as saying on October 17 that Cape Town had made “tremendous progress” in its preparations to meet the 2010 World Cup requirements and was still well within its infrastructure budget.

Also on October 17, news agency Reuters said that South Africa’s World Cup security plans had won approval from Fifa but football’s governing body still wanted to see these plans fine-tuned.

BuaNews quoted Peter Kwele, head of marketing and communications for public broadcaster SABC as saying that the broadcaster was ready to provide the world with high-quality television and radio broadcasts of the 2010 World Cup.

Separate reports said that South Africa would be buying 1422 buses for the 2010 World Cup, of which 210 would be luxury coaches for LOC use, and the rest inter-city and commuter buses for spectators.

On October 16, the SABC reported that South Africa’s department of transport had given the thumbs-up for transport infrastructure development in the host cities for the 2010 World Cup. This followed concerns about the pace of development in some cities.

While South Africa’s banks generally have escaped fallout from the global financial crisis, finance minister Trevor Manuel has said that increased costs of borrowing and a weaker rand – the local currency – could hamper the country’s infrastructure plans.

The huge spending needed to overhaul and extend infrastructure ahead of the 2010 football World Cup has pushed up South Africa’s current account deficit, although this is offset to an extent by South Africa’s large foreign reserves and the fact that the rand has not been that badly hit.

On October 17, wire agency Bloomberg quoted Brian Bruce, chief executive officer of Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd, South Africa’s largest construction and engineering company, as saying that he expected that the government would keep up the pace of infrastructure spending even as credit markets failed.

Murray & Roberts is among construction companies building five stadiums and upgrading five more as the country spends 586 billion rands (about 43 billion euro) on improving roads and other infrastructure and building stadiums ahead of the World Cup.

PUBLICATION: www.sofiaecho.com
AUTHOR: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
DATED: 18th October 2008