SA’s 2010 stadiums budget balloons

World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) officials said last week the bill for the construction of five new stadiums and the refurbishment of the FNB stadium had “gone up” but gave no reason for the increase.

While the initial cost of building the stadiums and refurbishing the FNB stadium had been pegged at slightly over R2 billion, the projects have are now expected to cost more than four times the originally budgeted amount.

The increase has raised fears about the country’s ability to meet the 2009 deadline when the majority of the stadiums are expected to be ready for inspection by soccer governing body Fifa.

A more critical issue has also arisen in the possible source of the additional funds required, though the government had said it would foot the original bill and the Development Bank of South Africa was tasked with providing initial capital for the projects.

The Sunday Times reported last week that the latest breakdown of stadium costs would see Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, Polokwane stadium and Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit costing R1.1 billion each, King Senzangakhona stadium in Durban (R1.7 billion) and Green Point stadium in Cape Town (between R2.3 and R3.3 billion).

The upgrading of FNB stadium in Johannesburg would cost between R1.2 billion and R1.5 billion.

The LOC has said it will need up to 30 months to construct each stadium and currently has “slightly more than 44 months”.

Officials have indicated that the timeline may actually be shorter, as some of the world cup stadiums are expected to be used and “tested” in the June 2009 Confederations Cup.

However an official within the LOC said the committee was facing a “2010 dilemma” in that it had to follow laid down procedures for acquiring the funds, while at the same time speeding up the construction process to meet the 2010 deadline.

“We have to follow the Municipal Finance Management Act, which is very prescriptive on how the money is spent.

“If we follow it to the letter we won’t be in time for the Confederations Cup,” LOC executive director Dennis Mumble told the Sunday Times.

Following the conclusion of the world cup in Germany earlier this year, South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 tournament have come under intense scrutiny, with nay-sayers predicting that the country may not be ready to host the tournament.

Germany’s 2006 World Cup organising committee boss Franz Beckenbauer courted the ire of South Africa’s LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan two weeks ago when he claimed that South Africa’s preparations were “in trouble”.

“The organisation of the World Cup in South Africa is beset by big problems. But these are not South African problems, these are African problems.

“People are working against rather than with each other,” Beckenbauer told news agencies.

In the wake of the statements, Jordaan pledged to write to Beckenbauer, asking him to explain the meaning of “African problems”.

“If it’s a stadium problem, tell us. But he must explain what he means when he says it’s an African problem. I do not understand.

“We have a master project plan. We need to deliver five stadiums for the Confederation Cup in 2009 and four of these stadiums are complete,” Jordaan said.

Having seen no progress yet in the actual construction of the new stadiums, Fifa is understood to have put in place “emergency solutions” including an alternative venue for the tournament in case South Africa fails to rise up to the challenge.

October 2006
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