Bloemfontein - The newly established Mangaung metro declared itself ready on Wednesday to received an estimated 50 000 people for the African National Conference’s elective conference.
Several locations in the city were bustling with preparation activities, including the Bloemfontein campus of the University of the Free State.
The city started hanging ANC flags on lamp posts at all entrances this week, while huge billboards near the UFS will welcome the party delegates to the city.
A variety of suppliers were erecting tents all over the campus on Tuesday, and a massive tent, to accommodate the main plenary events, was set up about two weeks ago.
The tent covers a whole cricket field at the campus sport fields.
An equally big tent, to be used as dining room for the delegates, stands next to it in another open field.
Mangaung metro spokesman Qondile Khedama said there would be traffic check points on all roads into Bloemfontein from Thursday.
The streets and areas around the registration venues at the Central University of Technology (CUT) would be patrolled by traffic and police officers from Thursday until Sunday, 16 December.
Various streets around the CUT would be affected from Friday.
“No traffic would be allowed to flow into President Brand Street,” said Khedama.
Traffic would be discouraged from accessing the area around the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.
During the conference, streets in the vicinity of the UFS would also be highly regulated by traffic and security officials.
“Nelson Mandela Drive in particular would be highly regulated, because it is one of the main streets in the city running in front of the university. There will be serious volumes of traffic.”
Khedama urged visitors to the city to co-operate during the period of the ANC conference.
He said the city had received positive responses on hosting big events lately such as the ANC Centenary celebrations, Macufe and sporting events.
“All the formal hospitality places have been fully booked and we have resorted to our soccer world cup plan of Home Stay.”
On Thursday morning, ANC president Jacob Zuma, and national and provincial party leaders were scheduled to rename the Bloemfontein Airport to the Bram Fischer International Airport.
Later in the day, hundreds of guests on Naval Hill would watch Zuma unveil an eight-metre high statue of former president Nelson Mandela.
It was donated by Bloemfontein businessman Freddie Kenney and is said to be the largest of all the Madiba statues erected around the world.
Khedama said Naval Hill was chosen as the venue as there were plans to enhance it as a tourist destination and recreation hotspot. - Sapa