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South Africa will invest R170 billion (approximately $17.5bn) in transport for an estimated 450,000 visitors during the 2010 World Cup.

There has been criticism over the decision to host a World Cup in Africa, with some saying it is too soon for the continent and others saying the finances won't be available. With 18 months until the showpiece takes place, the South Africans are sparing no expense, as they announced a huge investment in the transport system.

Transport minister Jeff Radebe told a news conference the amount included funds for airport and road upgrades, as well as the creation of new rail and bus systems. He also said the money would ensure a major overhaul of the country's transport system, leaving a legacy after the tournament.

“We are driven by a desire to make sure that South Africa becomes a destination of choice for tourists and businesses. The World Cup in 2010 is a catalyst for the development of our system because we need to meet FIFA requirements,” Radebe said.

“The huge sum of money we are investing will also ensure a lasting legacy for our people.”

South Africa has ten venues for the 2010 finals in nine different cities spread throughout the country. An integrated ticketing system for visitors will be introduced for the World Cup in several types of transport, including railway, buses and taxi services.

Radebe said that the number of railway police would increase from 1,400 to 5,000 by 2010 and other security measures would be put in place to ensure the safety of visitors during the tournament and beyond.

--Peter Pedroncell,