/ 28 September 2007

Green Point delays raise concerns

The builders of Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium have admitted they are behind schedule because of several strikes by workers, but have promised to catch up soon. The admission differs markedly from the denial by Cape Town and 2010 officials, who insist all is on track.

Andrew Fanton, on-site project director of Murray & Roberts, told the Mail & Guardian this week: ”We have lost five days due to the illegal strike and that has affected our preparations badly. All we need to do now to recover is to put in a couple of extra hours during the week and at weekends for the next couple of months to be on schedule again.”

Of all the nine host cities, none has met more obstacles than Cape Town. Mayor Helen Zille first delayed approval of the R2,7-billion budget for the construction of the stadium until the city had an assurance that the National Treasury would cover the cost escalation of R180-million.

The matter was sorted out, with the Treasury paying R1,93-billion, the Western Cape government R212-million and the city R500-million.

When construction started in March there were objections from the Cape Town Environment Protection Association, which said the stadium would have negative environmental effects.

The association has applied for a court interdict to stop construction, but no decision has been taken yet. This month the workers again went on strike, breaking equipment at the stadium. The strike lasted for five days.

National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni said the first issue of dispute was the pick-up point of the shuttle service that ferries workers between the site and the Cape Town station where they get their transport home. The second issue was that the employer had failed to keep its promise of a weekly R96 travel allowance since February 2007.

Despite the delays, the organisers of the 2010 Fifa World Cup insist the stadium is not behind schedule. ”The strike has not disrupted our plans, they are on track and in time. With 2010 we are working on very tight deadlines and we cannot afford to lose any more time,” said Pieter Cronje, Cape Town 2010 spokesperson.