South Africa: World Cup Tenders Run On Tight Timeframe

Johannesburg — THE construction of soccer stadiums for the 2010 Soccer World Cup would begin in February, Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi said yesterday.

"Before the end of this year the main contractors will be basically identified," Moleketi said at a briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"In the first quarter next year -- February to be precise -- we will see construction start. We believe ... one month to six weeks will be enough to complete the negotiations," Moleketi said.

The planned start of construction sets a tight timeframe for the conclusion of tender processes at the end of December.

Negotiations between government and the Bombela consortium on the Gautrain project took months to conclude before the first sod was turned to mark the start of construction on the mega-project in September.

While construction of the stadiums is smaller in scope than the rapid-rail project, it involves negotiations on nine stadiums in different provinces.

The treasury has set aside R15bn for infrastructure development ahead of the tournament. More than half of the money, R8,4bn, will be used for the refurbishment of stadiums.

Moleketi did not explicitly say whether the national government or host cities and districts would be responsible for any cost overruns, but said municipalities would have to consider whether their ratepayers would be willing to support a project that cost more than initially projected.

"At the end of the day, someone must raise the difference. How are you gong to fund it if you decide to take on some kind of debt instrument?" He said a shared responsibility would prevent the national treasury from becoming a bottomless pit.

"It will also introduce a measure of discipline other than if it just comes from the top."

Moleketi did not, however, rule out further national funding, saying "that is a bridge we will cross when we come to it".

The deputy minister was delivering government's first of a series of updates on the preparedness of SA to host the premier event.

Government also moved to allay growing concerns about crime, following the rape of a French visitor to Durban at the weekend, by detailing security plans.

Deputy national police commissioner André Pruis, who heads government's comprehensive 2010 safety strategy, gave details of police plans for "blanket security" for the event.

Thirty-thousand additional policemen and co-operation with private security are all part of the plan to ensure the safety of tourists travelling to SA in 2010.

Pruis said the security plan included dividing host cities into "sectors" and dedicating security teams to each sector ahead of the event.

These teams would establish contact with private security companies, restaurants, and local bed and breakfasts in their sectors, to keep a tight check on occurrences in their areas.

Safety systems would be tested a year ahead of the World Cup when SA hosts the Confederation Cup in 2009.

The teams tasked with policing the World Cup would also have gained experience from monitoring the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean and next year's Rugby World Cup.

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