Saturday, October 10, 2009

Businesses ‘fed up’ with 2010 promises

Things have not turned out great for business operators near the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The majority of the population in South Africa are unable to think further than the next day when it comes to forward planning. It is too much wek. So once again authorities appear to be stumbling around with the implementation of their plans. The question that remains to be answered is whether the income from South Africa's brand new stadiums will make up for their cost.

BUSINESS operators near Nelson Mandela Bay’s plush multipurpose stadium say they are fed-up with “empty promises” of a 2010 Fifa World Cup business boom and see little opportunity for genuine profits during the world-class soccer extravaganza.

Some say preparing for the upcoming event has brought them nothing but problems and that they have had little or no communication or assistance from Fifa and local authorities about their plight.

The latest dilemma includes reports that businesses may be forced to close their doors during match days because of strict Fifa requirements.

Businesses closest to the stadium have already seen turnovers plummet by as much as 50% as road closures caused by roadworks have made it difficult for customers to reach them. Several businesses have now turned to their ward councillor for help.
They have also learnt that, once the World Cup is under way, several roads will be turned into one-way thoroughfares during match days, apparently to ensure fans’ safety. This move, they say, can only be to the detriment of their businesses.

Some have experienced further dents in their profits because they have had to hire cleaning services to clear out dust in their offices and shops due to ongoing construction in the area. Employees and owners say they have also been plagued by health problems due to constant “dust storms” caused by road and stadium construction.

Roy Bain, the owner of the World Champs Cafe and Takeaways in Fettes Road next to the stadium, said his World Cup dreams were going up in smoke.

“What they are doing to businesses around the stadium is grossly unfair,” he said.
Bain, who bought the shop two years ago specifically with 2010 in mind, began seeing a decrease in clients after being cut off due to road upgrades around the stadium.

Numerous businesses have complained about this to ward councillor Jeremy Davis and most claim they have experienced a huge decrease in profits while some complain delivery trucks have been unable to reach their premises.

Bain said he had tried to make up for his losses by staying open until late at night during recent matches to serve hungry and thirsty fans after the game. But this would not be enough for the business to stay afloat if regulations prohibiting him from operating during match days materialised.

Mandela Bay local organising committee executive director Errol Heynes said business owners had nothing to fear and that they would be allowed to trade. “Simply said, it would be business as usual.” In the same breath, however, he admitted a specific area around the stadium – known as the “exclusion zone” – would be closed off to traffic on match days and that regulations regarding “ambush marketing” were being put in place. Most of the businesses interviewed by Weekend Post fall within that area.

Traffic control measures would also be implemented during stadium events, which could likely result in road closures and one-way measures. These measures have been implemented on a test basis during all events hosted at the stadium since its completion.

Legal manager for Fifa World Cup South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Mpumi Mazibuko, said Fifa would communicate with businesses with regard to possible rules and regulations “in due course”.
Davis said he had called for a meeting with the mayor, acting municipal manager and an official from the infrastructure and engineering department on Tuesday to discuss all these problems.
Bain said if Fifa wanted to force them to close their doors, it should come up with some form of compensation. “Again, nobody has mentioned anything and there are only 250 days before the event.”

Siegfried Scherwinski, owner of German TVs in Prince Alfred Road, has had his share of problems including his business being inaccessible due to roadworks. The dust and debris have left him with eye problems.

Regarding possible closure during match days, Scherwinski was adamant: “I will not close.”

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

What can we say? We tried to warn them. Some people can't be told, they can only learn the hard way.