The 2010 FIFA World Cup and its associated transport infrastructure requirements will take centre stage during this year’s Transport Month.

“I’m honoured by the presence of many who have worked tirelessly to propel the transport system towards its readiness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” said Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, during the launch of the Transport Month at OR Tambo International Airport, Tuesday.

The minister followed by other dignitaries and media took a tour of the newly built International Arrivals terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.

The airport, which is the largest point of entry into South Africa for the world cup, is in the process of undergoing significant changes. The many changes have already been felt by travellers visiting the airport.

“Our presence here today is also an important step in our readiness for 2010. The OR Tambo International Airport is a shining example of our accelerated preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Airports Company South Africa [ACSA] has continuously drawn up plans which will enable South Africa’s airports to handle the mega influx of air traffic, passengers and airfreight not only for the 2010 event but also for the projected growth and development projections.

“Air traffic in South Africa will be in excess of 45 million passengers per annum by 2012 from the current 32.8 million,” explained Mr Radebe.

As a result of the expected influx of tourists and football fanatics for next years FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the department is investing R20 billion to upgrade and develop the country’s airports.

The minister also toured the construction site for the new Central Terminal Building.

“The Central Terminal Building has reached 70 percent completion, in spite of the fact that the central terminal building is perhaps the largest single project ASCA has ever embarked upon.

“This terminal building is designed to give passengers a smooth and uninterrupted travel experience and is set to provide the international terminal capacity required for the efficient facilitation of passengers.

“In addition, four 90 meter baggage carousels are also being developed to adequately cater for any type of aircraft including the new Airbus A380,” he said.

The central terminal building will create a link between the current domestic building and the existing international terminals.

The Transport Month campaign will be used to test the transport systems in the host cities, because those are the systems that underpin the country’s world cup readiness and the legacy that the government aims to leave behind for future development.

The minister also announced that just two weeks before the world cup is scheduled to begin, a stretch of the Gautrain route between OR Tambo and the Sandton station, including two stations in between and the Midrand operations centre will be opened.

“This will be a crucial segment of the routs, as the majority of football fans visiting the country will enter through OR Tambo International Airport,” Mr Radebe said.