The Minister of Transport; Sbu Ndebele,
Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane,
Chairperson of ACSA, Sindi Zilwa and the CEO, Monhla Hlahla,
The CEO of the 2010 Local Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan,
We meet at the busiest and most important entry point into our country, the OR Tambo International Airport.
It is not a coincidence that this airport is named after an illustrious and outstanding internationalist and leader of our people and our President Oliver Reginald Tambo.
We can therefore only feel inspired when we gather to celebrate achievement and progress at a facility that is named after him.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have every reason to celebrate achievements such as the completion of the extension of this airport as it is a significant milestone.
The completion is a practical example of our readiness to host the Fifa Soccer World Cup, while also providing proof of the benefits of this tournament to ordinary South Africans.
As we all know, Jan Smuts International Airport was changed to OR Tambo International in 2006. As its name changed, so did its form, capacity and size.
In 2005 government and other stakeholders developed the 2010 Transport Action Plan, to improve our transport infrastructure in preparation for the World Cup tournament.
An amount of R20 billion was put into expanding airport infrastructure countrywide.
We are seeing the results of that investment. The economic spin offs of the tournament and the impact on the creation of jobs and work opportunities have been remarkable.
The construction of stadiums created a total of 130,200 jobs, 66,813 of them direct. The direct, indirect and induced economic impact is valued at R15 billion.
Of this amount R7.4 billion of benefits have accrued to households, and R2 billion to low income households.
Therefore, the infrastructure development programme has contributed a significant dimension into our poverty alleviation drive, as it will add R4.9 billion to the real GDP in 2010.
Much more important also, is the fact that the infrastructure which has been created will be a lasting legacy for this country.
Our vision of a truly international airport has been realized, with the completion of the R2.2 billion Central Terminal Building.
The domestic and international terminals are linked, thus improving passenger experience and orientation.
Also completed is the new R530 million international pier, with increased number of holding lounges, airside commercial areas and boarding gates in the double level structure.
The recent developments also include a multi story parkade, which increased capacity to almost 1,700 parking bays, the new atrium at international arrivals, an enlarged and remodelled food court and retail facilities.
As government, we have also emphasized integrated transport services. With the completion of the Gautrain Rapid mass transport route from the airport to Sandton, we are confident that we will move all our visitors in safety and comfort once they land.
In addition 570 buses have been procured for efficient transportation.
Road users have been very patient during the road construction phase and we appreciate that. The fruits of the infrastructure development will be worth the wait and the inconvenience.
We are pleased to announce that by the start of the FIFA World Cup tournament on June 11, the R21 road that links OR Tambo airport and Pretoria will be operational.
This will facilitate the smooth movement of road traffic east towards Benoni, west towards Johannesburg and north to Pretoria.
Four lanes per direction will be open for traffic between Pretoria and OR Tambo Airport before the start of the tournament.
Hans Strijdom in the Randburg area and the Benoni Interchange near the airport will also be complete just before the start of the World Cup tournament.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You can see that when we say we are ready for the tournament it is not just rhetoric, we mean what we are saying.
I must emphasize that all the hosting provinces countrywide are ready for the tournament, it is not just Gauteng. Even those that are not hosting games are preparing the flow of tourists and overflow guests from neighbouring provinces.
The airports in Cape Town and Mangaung have been upgraded, while King Shaka International will begin operations on the 1st of May north of Durban.
Training venues are also ready; including the team base camps and pitches.
The stadiums have been completed and match-tested at this stage. Contractors are just busy with final touches on the precincts, most of which were completed in March.
These stadiums have also been equipped with fibre broadcast infrastructure to provide the best communication possible.
We also want to assure everyone that even though we do not foresee any power challenges, host cities have back-up generators for the stadiums. This includes providing backup power for the overlay and hospitality camps.
Plans have also been made for the installation of temporary technical power for the broadcast and media compounds.
The environmental impact of the tournament has also been carefully considered. Disaster management, public health and fire services are on alert with integrated plans for any mishap.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Both genuine and alarmist concerns have been raised about safety and security during the tournament. We took these into consideration years ago when we started our planning.
That is why in addition to routine security plans and budgets; we also have an additional R1.3 billion war chest for World Cup safety and security.
We have a comprehensive security plan, which includes addressing terror threats, hooliganism and general crime.
There are national and provincial security joint operations, which include collaboration of security issues at these levels to ensure safety and security during the tournament.
We have arranged 2010 World Cup Special Courts to deal with offences during the event.
There will be at least one dedicated 2010 district court and one 2010 Regional Court per host city, which will start operating two weeks before and two weeks after the tournament.
Dedicated skilled and experienced magistrates, prosecutors, attorneys, local and-and foreign court language interpreters will be assigned to each of the 2010 dedicated courts within each province.
Therefore, budding offenders, local and foreign, can be assured of instant and efficient justice!
Compatriots, ladies and gentlemen,
I am sure like me, you were excited to see the anticipation levels and excitement all over the country with regards to the World Cup.
The level of enthusiasm was demonstrated by the demand for tickets that we envisaged last week.
As we await the world, we must be inspired by the memory of our national hero and icon, President Oliver Tambo. He taught us to embrace the world outside our immediate precincts and horizons.
It is this world which over many years gave us a strong platform to advance the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa and in the continent.
Oliver Tambo was a true international statesman, with the highest regard for the values of humanity dignity and compassion.
With the name change, we sought not only to immortalise President Tambo, but also to celebrate his sacrifice and commitment to the universal values of equality and freedom.
It was also to celebrate his sterling contribution to international relations and for charting the way for our current international profile.
He travelled all over the world to communicate the vision of a free, non-racial, apartheid-free, democratic South Africa.
It is therefore appropriate that this facility, which represents a convergence zone for people from all over the world, is named after this national and international hero.
The struggle in South Africa, President Tambo reminded us, was the struggle of the entire continent and the peace loving world, and in the same way, the victory that we achieved in 1994 is for this world as well.
Therefore, as we prepare to welcome the world to our beautiful country, let us remember President Tambos words at the First Congress of the Angolan ruling party, the MPLA in Luanda in 1977.
We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage.
Let us work together, black and white, and welcome the world with the warmth and friendliness that South Africans are known for.
The FIFA World Cup is here; we can feel it, let us embrace it, revel in it and win!
It is my pleasure and honour to declare the expanded OR Tambo International Airport open!
I thank you!