South Africa 2008-08-03 : Upgrading of 2010 stadium creates 400 jobs

Over 400 construction jobs have been created by upgrading the Free State Stadium for both the 2009 and 2010 football tournaments, writes Michael Appel. A total of R4.5 million has been paid out to the 400 construction workers on-site to date since the upgrading began on 1 September 2007. The stadium will host not only matches during the 2009 Confederations Cup, but it is also a host stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"Currently we have about 400 people on site, with income generated to local labour at about R4.5 million that has been spent to date," Free State Stadium Project Manager Tykes Govender told BuaNews.

Speaking on-site, Mr Tykes said the stadium was being upgraded from a 38 000 capacity stadium to a stadium with a seating capacity of 45 000, at cost of R252 million.

"We are upgrading the stadium to 45 000 with the main construction on the western pavilion where we are going up with an additional tier which will accommodate the additional seating.

"The main frames are being constructed and once that has been completed the pre-cast seats which will be installed," said Mr Govender.

The original completion date was 30 August 2008, however, extensions were granted to the contractor to the end of September 2008.

This date might be pushed back again after a number of further delays to the end of October or November.

"We have had a certain amount of labour related issues.

"There was what we call an illegal strike for 15 days on and off not over one period, but the contractor has mitigated against that and have come to an agreement between the labour force and themselves, and to date we have had no other labour related issues," explained Mr Govender.

According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mangaung 2010, George Mohlakoana, work is currently progressing well, despite challenges relating to longer site establishment due to unknown services, rainfall, and labour-related strikes.

"However there is no doubt that Mangaung will complete the stadium ahead of the FIFA deadline of December 2008," the CEO highlighted in his 2010 progress report.

Speaking to BuaNews, Mr Mohlakoana said when the contract was awarded, they were fortunate enough to find a joint venture group of companies that are all Free State-based.

"We have on-site 400 people, and of those people about 85 percent are local, the other 15 percent comes from outside because they offer specialised services which were not available at the time when the contract was awarded.

"Through the project that we have to implement, we have tried to ensure that we involved as many local people as possible, including local companies.

"We will try to ensure we continue with this policy," said the CEO.

The total budget for the stadium upgrade was revised from R241 million to R305.5 million, with the construction portion being allocated R252 million.

The national government has contributed R224.7 million, while the province has allocated R64.3 million and the Mangaung Local Municipality has allocated R20 million to upgrade Free State Stadium.

Mr Mohlakoana highlighted that both soccer events will leave behind a number of legacies including a new stadium image with a greater football presence, offices within the stadium, increased revenue stream, parking facilities within the sports precinct and improved media accommodation.

As a host city for both tournaments, Mangaung is required to have at least 20 000 beds available to accommodate both the FIFA stakeholders and 40 000 visitors to the city.

MATCH, the company responsible for all the FIFA accommodation needs, requires at least 5000 beds.

Mr Mohlakoana said that when the city conducted a tourism audit in 2005, the indication of the number of beds in the city was 7 500.

The city has seen a number new accommodation establishments springing up and existing establishment upgrading their facilities.

"This has seen the number of beds in the city rise to 10 884 by June 2008.

"The strategy for reaching the accommodation target number of beds in the city is to work with satellite towns [such as] Kimberley, Upington, Maseru [in Lesotho] and other towns in the Free State Province have become key in terms of meeting the accommodation inventory target," the CEO said.

Mangaung is expected to have 1 000 volunteers, both specialist and general volunteers, working during the Confederations Cup in 2009, of which 318 will be from Mangaung, and 682 from the Local Organising Committee volunteer programme.

Training venues for the tournaments include Seisa Ramabodu and Botshabelo stadiums, costing about R350 million to upgrade to FIFA and Premier Soccer League (PSL) specifications, he concluded.