Wheels come off Afcon transport

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AlgeriavsSA Reuters A fan of South Africa is pictured before the team's international friendly soccer match against Algeria in Soweto January 12, 2013.

Johannesburg - Less than a week before the kick-off of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, officials have yet to finalise the details of a deal for player and fan transport to game venues.

Executives from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), and the local organising committee spent much of Friday and yesterday in meetings in order to iron out the details of the last-minute deal.

The agency, which owns Translux and City-to-City buses and Metrorail, are meant to provide buses to transport players, VIP guests and match officials to various stadiums across the country.

Yesterday, local organising committee spokesman Sipho Sithole refused to divulge details of the 11th-hour talks, saying there could be an announcement today.

“The LOC and Prasa are concluding an agreement for the movement of people, including the movement of players,” Sithole said.

He added that the deal would be “the most important milestone” in organising the premier African soccer tournament.

The agency’s spokesman, Moffet Mofokeng, also confirmed the talks yesterday.

“We are in discussions with the LOC of Afcon regarding the transportation of fans and everyone in the Afcon family – that would be players and VIP guests. Once the discussions have been finalised, we will inform the public.”

But with six days to go until kick-off, there will be precious little time to publicise bus and train timetables to ferry fans to match venues.

“It is close to the event, but we think that we have the capacity to reach as many people as possible. The services are available nationwide, and people will know how to access them,” he said.

Mofokeng said he could not provide details on routes or the number of buses which would be provided, as they were still being discussed.

On Friday, local organising committee chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe said that, in addition to slow ticket sales, the committee was concerned about transport, particularly in rural Eastern Cape.

Eight matches are being held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth – a city which is up to six hours away from some towns in the former Transkei.

He was concerned there was no direct bus service between Port Elizabeth and Queenstown.

Speaking to journalists, Mbebe said: “I am not comfortable that everything is under control.” - Sunday Independent


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