World Cup may cost billions more

Projected costs for South Africa’s preparations to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup could be up to 20% higher due to factors such as rising steel and cement prices, Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi said on Tuesday.

In a briefing in Pretoria, Moleketi said officials in the nine host cities have delivered cost escalations between R2,8-billion and R3,4-billion above what had been budgeted.

“These are some of the projections that are coming in,” he said.

Moleketi added that the government plans to question and verify the cost escalations and it will have a clearer idea of the World Cup cost by the time Finance Minister Trevor Manuel presents the national budget in February next year.

The government has budgeted about R17,5-billion for the construction and refurbishment of soccer stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament.

Moleketi added that the government is confident that organised labour and workers who have been demanding higher wages and concessions at stadium work sites will not “sabotage” the preparations.

A two-week-long strike by construction workers building Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium came to an end on Monday after workers accepted an offer made by the Group Five-WBHO consortium. Work resumed on Tuesday morning.

National Union of Mineworkers regional coordinator Bonginkosi Mncwabe on Monday confirmed that a secondary strike, which was scheduled to hit other 2010 projects, the Gautrain and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, would not go ahead on Tuesday.

SA ‘ready’ for World Cup

Meanwhile, a research and survey body announced on Tuesday that South Africa is ready for the World Cup.

TNS Research Surveys in May and June this year compiled the views of 2 000 adults on the World Cup.
The analysis was done in seven major metropolitan areas in the country—1 261 blacks, 384 white, 240 coloured and 115 Indian/Asian respondents took part in the study.

TNS spokesperson Neil Higgs said 63% of respondents showed optimism about “our readiness for the World Cup”. This was an increase from August last year when only 59% of respondents thought that South Africa would be ready.

“There has been an increasingly positive trend over the past 21 months. In September 2005, only 40% felt we would be ready,” said Higgs.

Gauteng respondents were the most optimistic—67% believed that the country was ready for the World Cup. Cape Town was the least optimistic—52% of respondents did not think the country was ready.

Despite the dispute and controversy over the refurbishment and use of Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium for the event, 63% of respondents were in favour of the stadium being built.

Higgs said: “In the 2005 study, 90% of people felt that making a success of the event is vital to South Africans, in terms of job creation and economic growth to alleviate poverty.”

TNS urged the local organising committee (LOC) to dispel negativity around South Africa hosting the soccer event. “The LOC needs to send out strong positive signals to the public, businesses, tourism industry and all policymakers. Every South African stands to benefit from this event,” said Higgs.

Despite the positive outcome of the study, one in four respondents still had doubts about the event and this was a concern, he said.—Reuters, Sapa