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Every aspect of preparation is being looked into in South Africa, and an excellent transport network is essential for the smooth running of the tournament...

The Golden City of Africa, as Johannesburg is popularly known, is set to welcome the 2010 World Cup visitors with five star roads as a massive programme to rehabilitate some of its highways ahead of the competition is currently underway.

In a statement that was released on the city’s official website, Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) spokesperson Thulani Makhubela was quoted as saying that from a roads point of view, the city will be ready for the world's biggest sporting event.

"We are making it a point that visitors will leave with an experience of a world-class city. I have been fortunate enough to attend the last two World Cups and I can say with confidence that we will host a much better World Cup," he said.

The JRA embarked on a huge project aimed at rehabilitating some roads at a reported cost of R284 million.

This involves repairing damaged roads leading to stadiums, upgrading traffic and tourism signs, synchronising traffic lights and fixing pavements. So far roads with major faults have been identified using the visual condition index study which started in November 2008.

This study is aimed at determining the level of deterioration and establishing the required and appropriate remedial action on each and every single road in Johannesburg.

"The outcomes of the study are what inform our resurfacing and road rehabilitation programme. Our wish is to implement the recommended rehabilitative measures in all our roads but due to budgetary constraints this is impossible," Makhubela was quoted as saying.

The agency is in charge of the management of a network of 9,300 kilometres of tarred roads and 600kms of gravel roads. Roads that will affect the delivery of a successful World Cup, including the M1 are topping the priority list.

"The success of this project will mean the introduction of certain by-laws that will ensure the smooth running of the programme. This will mean that some private projects, like laying of fibre optic cables on our roads, have to stop," the JRA spokesperson told the site.

The JRA have a big responsibility that could well become the tournament’s make or break focal point. They will be addressing complaints about potholes, dug out trenches, blocked kerbs and flooding in and around the main host city. There were also complaints about turnaround times in dealing with service queries.

The delay in fixing some of the roads was as a result of a problems at the asphalt plant earlier this year, which has since been fixed.

A number of traffic light outages is another challenge which the city says is under its microscope. Less than one per cent of traffic lights, excluding those that are out because of power failures, are out of order at any given time.

This research is based on what Makhubela refer to as the agency’s key performance indicators. The international standard for traffic signal outages is two per cent, he pointed out.

"At the moment, the JRA is meeting those targets and we are working on improving [them]," he concluded.

Clyde Tlou, Goal.com

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