South Africa's World Cup Infrastructure Dream

Posted by Brittany Wong

When the FIFA World Cup comes to South Africa next month, the country can expect all the fervor of fútbol: 32 teams representing their homelands on the brand-new Cape Town Stadium field, trumped-up rivalries, and dudes done up in the particular war paint of their beloved nations.

But the lasting legacy of the month-long international soccer event lies in the possibility of improved infrastructure. A recent Planetizen article looks at the World Cup’s power to transform South Africa’s enfeebled infrastructure and shake the country of its international reputation as a formerly segregated state:

Recovering from 49 years of the violent and deeply discriminatory apartheid regime of the last half of the 20th Century, South Africa is a new democracy eager to move beyond its unfortunate past. It's the first African nation to host the World Cup. Its ability to pull off the event has been questioned consistently since its selection as host in 2004. With crippling poverty, widespread unemployment, drastically high rates of crime and very real aftershocks of its transition to a non-segregated state, South Africa could use some positive PR. The country is hoping that the international spotlight will shine a friendly light on how far the country has come, and maybe not so brightly on how far it needs to go.
Although the National Treasury has committed more than $2.1 billion on updated ports, revamped roads, and extended public transit systems to better link the nine host cities, the process of improved transportation has not been without its bumps:
Projects have gone vastly over budget, past deadline and beyond feasibility. The cost of Cape Town's BRT system ballooned from an estimated $171 million in 2008 to more than $600 million. It was recently announced that one section of the Johannesburg Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system would not be ready in time for the tournament as had previously been planned. Benchmarks for the Gautrain have been scaled back. Planned BRT systems have been delayed or called off in Durban, Bloemfontein and Tshwane.
Are South Africa’s hopes for better infrastructure post-World Cup a pipe dream, like one Cape Town planning manager claims? To read more on South Africa's transit plans, city planners' aspirations for improved public space, and the likelihood of an increased South African GDP as a result of the World Cup, check out Planetizen.

Photo via Planetizen