Minister salutes operators

2010-07-14 17:14

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele on Wednesday saluted transport operators for "rising to challenges" and ensuring that transport moved smoothly during the FIFA World Cup.

"Given the deep-seated historical legacy of apartheid-inspired geographical marginalisation of the majority of South Africans and decades of under-investment in public transport, access and mobility was going to be a challenge in hosting the World Cup," Ndebele said in a statement.

"South Africa rose to the challenge and transport moved smoothly."

He said credit for the transport achievements during the tournament needed go to all members of the "transport family" including all spheres of government, in particular host cities, and to a range of parastatal entities in the aviation, rail and road sectors.

"We also salute private sector public transport operators, local bus and coach operators and the often maligned minibus-taxi industry who have all come to the party and (have) done us proud.

"In just one month, in addition to daily normal commuting services, millions of fans criss-crossed a country three times the size of Germany, with the majority of them using public transport, mainly taxis, buses and trains."

There were no major accidents or incidents reported, he said.

He said government had identified public transport as the key legacy project for the World Cup. Government invested billions of rands to ensure a safe, efficient and reliable public transportation system for the tournament.

According to FIFA, 3.1 million spectators attended the 64 matches of the tournament, which was the third highest aggregate attendance behind the United States in 1994 and Germany in 2006.

The number excluded the millions of people who travelled to the fan festivals, public viewing areas and other entertainment centres to watch the matches.

Ndebele said the overwhelming success was enabling Africans to challenge misconceptions and stereotypes about the continent which augured well for the future.

"Economically, we invested in infrastructure which will provide long-lasting benefits to the economy. Through the renewal of our transport and road networks we have addressed long-standing bottlenecks."

He again called on South Africans to use public transport.

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