SA needs tight 2010 transport plan

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Johannesburg - South Africa requires tight coordination between national, provincial and host cities to have an efficient transport system for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele.

"Our plans must be tight because we know that an estimated 40 000 England fans traveled to Germany in 2006 and more than 100 000 fans were from Brazil. We expect close to 500 000 fans to descend on our shores for the World Cup in 2010.

"This figure could be more when others travel not to see the soccer, but to see the country that hosts the soccer world cup," the minister said, at the National Communication Partnership Conference in Johannesburg on Monday.

He said during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the department found that the park-and-ride system while useful, had its limitations and cannot be relied on during 2010.

"We will however employ a combination of the modes of transport, including rail and buses, which are principally, mass movers.

"These will be supplemented by minibus taxis, which we believe are an integral part of the public transport system," he said.

He affirmed that the national Department of Transport's roll-out plan includes long-distance services such as bus, rail and aviation.

It also includes centralised communication and information plans and signage guidelines, licensing and branding.

Minister Ndebele said after the Final Draw on 4 December 2009, the department will have an idea where the qualified countries will play and have a better sense of where the big crowds will be, according to the estimated fan base.

"This means we must be able to deal with the practical implications of having Brazil play England in Polokwane or Nelspruit.

"In such a case, our systems must be able to respond, including transport into and out of these areas, and accommodation. If we plan inadequately for this situation we might end up with a disaster," he said.

He added that for this reason, the department calls for tighter management in the form of "command and control".

"We strongly believe there must be one person who through delegated authority in the host cities runs the entire transport system.

"Similar approaches could be employed in other sectors. The buck must stop with one centre that uses a benevolent dictatorship to deal with problems," the minister said.

The conference, which was organised by Government Communication and Information System and the International Marketing Council of South Africa, opened a platform for communicators to discuss and ascertain effective communication plans for the world cup.

The conference was attended by professional communicators from the public and private sector, and among the issues discussed were transport, accommodation and mobilisation of African countries to feel part of the event.