builders race against clock

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The Eastern Cape government is pulling out all the stops to complete the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium that is on the list of five venues for next year's Confederations Cup.

This comes in the wake of concerns expressed by the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, who identified the stadium as one of their main challenges for the Confederations Cup.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the only facility built from scratch that has been chosen to host both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

Noxolo Abrahams-Ntantiso, Eastern Cape MEC for sports and recreation, said they had stepped up work on site at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"We are aware of the concerns raised by the LOC regarding the stadium but we are channeling all our energies into the project.

"I'm impressed by the work load done to date. The contractors on site are working round the clock to ensure we meet the deadlines," said Abrahams-Ntantiso.

At a board meeting attended by Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke last November, a task team was set up to monitor the progress made at the venues.

The task team has been visiting the venues to assess the readiness of the new and upgrading of existing stadiums for the two competitions.

Danny Jordaan, LOC chief executive, said a decision on the use of Nelson Mandela Bay for the Confederations Cup will be taken at a board meeting on March 4.

"Whether we remain with five stadia for the Confederations Cup or reduce them to four will be a decision of the board," he said.

"You will recall that it has never happened in the history of the Confederations Cup that five venues are used for its matches.

"The board will decide on Nelson Mandela Stadium based on the reports submitted," said Jordaan, who was in Port Elizabeth this week to assess the progress.

"They have made tremendous progress.

"Nelson Mandela Stadium is one of the major challenges for us as we move into the operational phase."

Valcke will lead the Fifa delegation attending the board meeting.

Errol Heynes, the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality 2010 World Cup executive director, said: "There has been tremendous progress since November.

"We are well on track. Everybody is working hard so that the Confederations Cup will also be played in our municipality."