South Africa is “definitely ready” to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday, as he officially opened the R2,2-billion OR Tambo International Airport Central Terminal Building (CTB).
He noted that the completion of the project was a practical example of the country’s readiness to host the FIFA World Cup and to provide proof of the benefits of the tournament for the country.
Zuma highlighted that the economic spin-offs of the tournament and the jobs created were “remarkable”.
The direct, indirect and induced economic impact of the tournament was valued at about R15-billion, of which R7,4-billion of the benefits had accrued to households and a further R2-billion to low-income households, he said.
The tournament was also expected to add R4,9-billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The country’s infrastructure development programme had contributed a significant dimension to government’s poverty alleviation drive, he emphasised.
Meanwhile, the President said that the vision of building a truly international airport had been reached, adding that since the OR Tambo airport's name had been changed in 2006, Africa’s largest and busiest airport had changed in terms of its form, capacity and its size.
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) MD Monhla Hlahla noted that the airport's capacity had been increased from about a seven-million passengers a year throughput to 28-million passengers a year throughput over the past 15 years.
OR Tambo GM Chris Hlekane added that the airport was able to handle about 60 000 passengers a day and that it could move about 60 aeroplanes an hour.
Acsa was in discussion with the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) to try to increase this to 72 an hour for the FIFA World Cup event, he added.
Acsa had also invested about R20-billion on expanding and upgrading the infrastructure at all its airports countrywide in the past few years.
All the airports to be used during the FIFA World Cup event were ready for the event.
Hlahla highlighted that even if less foreign visitors travelled through the country’s airports than previously expected, the investment in the airport infrastructure had been necessary for the future economic development of the country.
WORLD CUP READINESS
Meanwhile, 2010 FIFA World Cup local organising committee CEO Dr Danny Jordaan said in a separate media briefing at the airport that South Africa’s state of readiness for the event was in good shape.
He emphasised that it was important that this event be an African World Cup, but said that it must also be a world-class event.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele emphasised that all transport plans for the FIFA World Cup were ready to be implemented.
The Department of Transport had invested R19-billion on public transport infrastructure for the tournament, with a combination of transport options available for those travelling to and from stadiums in each of the host cities, as well as for those travelling between the host cities.