A separate terminal has been set up at OR Tambo International Airport for the 31 soccer teams that will be arriving in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) says.
It said yesterday the move aimed at both assuring the security of the teams while at the same time minimising disruption of normal airport operations. Briefing reporters earlier, the airport’s assistant general manager Tebogo Megoe said the separate facility to be used only by the teams had the necessary infrastructure to aid both arrival and departure journeys, the state BuaNews agency says.
It was also confirmed that Australia will be the first team to arrive today ahead of the World Cup kick off on June 11. Brazil arrives tomorrow while Argentinean and Denmark national teams are due to land on Saturday morning. Megoe said 16 teams will be arriving next week while the rest of the countries are expected to be in the country by June 7. Also arriving tomorrow is FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has been afforded a Head of State status and will be accommodated in the state protocol lounge.
Megoe said OR Tambo International, which is expected to be the entry point for the visitors, was ready to accommodate the high traffic volumes expected to begin from next week. “We have done all that we needed to do in terms of ensuring that we have capacity for the event,” said Megoe.
It is expected that OR Tambo will experience peak hour periods ranging from 16 to 18 hours on any given day during the World Cup period. Megoe said “contingency” plans had been developed specifically around the tournament and that there was no crisis the airport staff would not be able to handle.
There will be a viewing area for the public to allow fans to catch a glimpse of the teams as they arrive at the airport but police have warned that strict security measure will be in place and that the area will be cordoned off. Of the 190 000 police officers in the country, 44 000 will be deployed at World Cup venues while all major airports are expected to have at least 1000 officers on patrol on busy days.
Megoe said due to the expected increase in air traffic volume measures are in place to ensure all airports have sufficient fuel all the time. Currently OR Tambo is sitting with about 45 million liters of fuel capacity while other airports like Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein have also taken steps to ensure sufficient fuel availability for the duration of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the country’s first rapid rail link, the Gautrain will start operating from Sandton to OR Tambo from June 8 and is expected to ease road traffic during the World Cup period. A trip from the airport to Sandton will take about eight to 15 minutes.
In another development, the Engineering News reports that hopes that the World Cup will deliver substantial economic benefit might be misplaced. ACE Insurance has warned that there is also an alternate future in which the country would have to deal with massive debt. ACE senior underwriter Technical Lines Trevor Kerst says South Africa had spent about R33-billion on preparations for the sporting event. “With estimates of tourist numbers to the country now hovering [at] between 300 000 and 400 000, the return on that investment is by no means assured; add to that the reality that FIFA pays no taxes and institutes exclusion zones around the stadiums where matches take place, and tax income is curtailed. Within these exclusion zones, only FIFA and its partners may sell any goods; nothing from these sales accrues to the government,” he said.
Further, he warned that such massive debt would lead to a marked slowdown in public sector spending, especially on large capital projects, and that the insurance industry might be facing lean time ahead, the Engineering News adds. “Already there has been a slowdown in the number of new big projects; the big deals of the past are no longer cropping up quite as often,” said Kerst.