/ 23 August 2009

2010 organisers face court action over media housing

Soccer World Cup organisers face court action over plans to build alleged ”hostel-type” dwellings to accommodate the media during the event, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said on Sunday that the City of Johannesburg and the Fifa local organising committee were facing an urgent court bid to stop it from proceeding with the R72-million development next to Soccer City, South of Johannesburg.

The Expo Centre at Nasrec instituted the court action over apparent concerns over a drop in property values in the surrounding area due to what it considered ”inferior” building plans for ”hostel-style” dwellings.

The centre wants the court to order the city to stop the current construction and then restart adhering to apparently better building standards.

The centre has complained that the size of the two bedroom apartments, at 45 square metres, is half the expected size.

There are also concerns that the apartments will allegedly be made mostly of prefabricated material and will not have insulation. The tournament is to be held in the middle of winter.

On Friday, the city apparently gave the court an undertaking it would stop the building until the case was resolved.

The case is expected to go back to court in September.

However in court papers the city warned this delay would cost taxpayers and that time pressure would have a ”profound effect on the broadcast of the World Cup soccer event to the entire world”.

The newspaper reported that the city’s 2010 unit head Sibongile Mazibuko said the process of building was too advanced to start over again.

”Should any relief be granted in favour of the [Expo Centre] the consequences for the World Cup in 2010 would be dire,” the city said in court papers.

The city said its obligation to Fifa required the provision of ”no more than rooms” and said the organising committee was ”perfectly satisfied” with the standard of the building.

In turn the centre argued there would be a long term
diminishing of value of the area if the construction of the apartments as is went ahead.

Millions of rand have been spent on a facelift for the area after it was announced that the Expo centre will be the venue for the International Broadcasting Centre and Soccer City Stadium.

”It will forever have an affordable development in the middle of its up-market state-of-the-art development, the Expo Centre CEO Craig Newman said.

Local Organising Committee spokesperson Rich Mkhondo told the newspaper he could not comment on the matter until the court case had been resolved. – Sapa