The biggest problem that I saw coming at this first FIFA World Cup in Africa was transport-in the air, on the roads, and on the rails.
The history of South African transport during apartheid had been to get lots of people from their townships to work in the cities and the white mans' businesses and back home at dusk. That is how the local train networks and the rattling old buses operated, no matter how uncomfortable they were, and how early people had to get up for the long journeys.
Well, they never used the airports of course which are now glittering, huge and very efficient. Thry have had their names changed from old Africaaner names to heroes of the revolution-as long as they supported the A.N.C. I have nothing but praise for these modern airports, and the new cheap airlines such as Kulula, Mango, 1 Time .
As for the trains. Well, they still cater for the local black population. I have been on these packed, slow trains that have people squashed together, stop everywhere-though only for about 10 seconds-and off again. I have been the only white guy amongst 30-40 jam packed carriages, each with 500 or more passengers. The whites will NOT use them in any circumstance.
During the cup though there has been an organized miracl. From my Pretoria base we have had FAST trains go to the local Loftus Versfeld station in 9 minutes there and back, and to Ellis Park and to Soccer City in an hour or so, EACH carriage has had 3-4 police officers, and they only stop a few times, WONDERFUL AND WELL DONE. I am FULL OF PRAISE. All World Cup cities should be connected to local and national rail networks. This was the problem at Rustenburg for example with horrendous park and ride problems.
However, the special buses from Pretoria Town Hall to Rustenburg, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Bloemfontein were perfect, city to stadium, but were poorly advertised, and probably lost lots of bucks. I use the word BUCKS, which we call the local currency,THE RAND, because each of the paper notes have Big Five animal. 10 Rand-black rhino, 20 Rand elephant,50 Rand lion 100 Rand-cape buffalo for example.
Well, well, Goodluck Johnson, the President of Nigeria has BACKED DOWN. He ordered the NFA to stop all international football for their national teams for TWO YEARS. Threatened with IMMEDIATE FIFA sanctions for government interference, he backed down on Monday, minutes before the FIFA deadline.
Nigeria, the continents most populated nation were eliminated early with just one point from 3 matches. The NFA President and Technical Director resigned and it's administration rather than on- field talent that is to blame. After the Beijing Olympics two planes touched down in Lagos. One carrying athletes and even more officials and freeloading government officials, and the other carrying all the expensive gifts that they had purchaed for themselves and their families with their government 'allowances'.
As for local transport, Cape Town has been praised and won awards for it's new fleet of buses and the scheduling. In Pretoria the public buses are old, but the modern fleet of Toyota 15 passenger vans are everywhere. R9 most places if you share. About R60 if you want a metered taxi that seats four. This IS progress.