World Cup infrastructure should go to the public

Given the South African government's current determined focus on service delivery, the question has to be asked: is there any pro-active link being made by government between monies being spent on infrastructure for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and what local municipalities are going to be able to use of that infrastructure for service delivery after 2010?

Surely, the two -- long-term service delivery and 2010 infrastructure -- should be planned together as part of integrated development planning? There is no other way to ensure that the billions being spent on 2010 pay forward to the on-going benefit of citizens. And there is no other way to measure what benefits 2010 will actually deliver to South Africans.

Of course 2010 is going to be a massive boost to tourism. And the supporting transport and telecommunications infrastructure should, in theory, be available for use by citizens and organizations long after the World Cup is over.

In theory. But we don't really know. Because we haven't put a peg in the ground now to say this is how things are at the moment -- in order to be able to measure how much better things became because of 2010.

Also, there is no centralized view of 2010 activities. What we call in the IT trade a 'cockpit' from which the president of the country -- or someone else with the appropriate authority -- can see where effort, expenditure and infrastructure are being duplicated, skipped altogether or inappropriately applied.

Certainly, because no data are being collected and analyzed, there is no way to tell how 2010 effort, expenditure and infrastructure dovetails with the service delivery needs of local government -- or even national government.

Take a fairly simple but obvious example -- the new stadia that are being built. Fifa rules stipulate that every stadium must be able to accommodate at least 40 000 people. How many of the stadiums being built or upgraded now will need to accommodate that many people after 2010? Local matches, even provincial matches, seldom draw more than 20 000 people in the big cities, let alone in some of the more remote locations being prepared for 2010.

That is not to say that we should not build the stadia. It simply raises the question of what planning is going into, say, having a stadium shared by a group of sporting codes and several different clubs, so that the social and financial value of the stadium is spread over a larger group of people than the soccer fraternity for many years after 2010.

If such sharing were to take place, it would have to be planned for. Each stadium would have to be built with the capacity to accommodate a variety of sporting pitches (soccer, rugby, cricket, athletics, hockey, for example). And easy access other than by private cars would have to be provided for. That is not happening right now. Because there is no coordination of everyone's ideas and hard work.

Do not get me wrong. I am not criticizing 2010. I am actually something of a pro-2010 fanatic.

I am simply pointing out that there is a unique opportunity here to harness the vast effort and financial investment being made for the World Cup to do more than make 2010 a month-long public relations success story for SA. We have a chance, if we start now, to empower and enrich our local governments in a way that would otherwise not be possible - because government simply does not have the financial and other resources to do that much that fast without 2010.

With the right kind of planning technology -- which already exists and is neither too expensive nor too complex to implement quickly now -- SA could find ways to integrate 2010 and local government service delivery requirements so that there is an ongoing positive ripple effect for citizens well beyond 2010.

What about, for example, all that Internet connectivity that is going to be set up for journalists for 2010? Could it be exploited by local governments to create an infrastructure for shared services -- and thereby cut their operational costs and boost productivity?

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