Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2013 Contents SAO PAULO---Brazil faces a last-minute
scramble to get its notoriously crowded and
shabby airports into shape for a huge influx
of World Cup fans next June, as delays have
left planners with barely any time to spare.
"There is no room for error when it comes
to the work at the World Cup airports," says
Jose Wilson Massa, a consultant in airport
"Nothing can go wrong now."
Brazil is upgrading airports in all 12 of the
World Cup host cities, but in some cases
the work started only this year.
The country has no viable rail system and
nearly all the travel between the venues will
have to be done by air.
Even before Brazil was picked to host foot-
ball s marquee tournament and the 2016
Olympics, it was becoming clear that its air-
ports needed improvement to cope with
demand generated by a healthy economy.
"Brazil needed to start improving its infra-
structure ten years ago," said Nicolau Gualda,
a transportation expert and a professor at
the University of Sao Paulo.
"And not only in the airports, the trans-
portation problem in Brazil has existed for
a long time and something had to be done
way before the World Cup."
The government acknowledges that there
are some problems, but says it is paying
close attention to ensure that deadlines are
met and remains confident that everything
will be ready in time.
However, deadlines have already been
pushed back at several airports. At nearly
all of them, the work isn t expected to be
finished before March---three months before
the tournament kicks off---and in some cases
it is expected only in May.
The schedule looks particularly tight in
the northeastern city of Natal, where a con-
tract between the government and a con-
sortium that runs the airport states that the
project doesn t have to be completed until
after the World Cup, and a government Web
site monitoring the building projects says
it s expected to be finished in June.
The consortium, however, is insisting that
it will complete the work next April.
According to Infraero, the state-run agency
that runs most Brazilian airports, some build-
ing projects at Cuiaba, Belo Horizonte, For-
taleza, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro were less
than 30 percent complete by June---a year
before kickoff. Work on terminals in Curitiba
and Salvador started only this year.
Only about $600 million of the $3 billion
allocated by the government for the 30 proj-
ects planned for the World Cup airports has
been spent so far, according to figures on
the government Web site.
The government said in an emailed state-
ment to The Associated Press that its civil
aviation secretariat "has intensified the mon-
itoring of the work at the airports in the
"Engineers are conducting regular visits
to the construction sites to identify the chal-
lenges and the obstacles that could keep the
work from progressing," it added.
Infraero, the airport agency, said that "all
efforts are being made" to ensure that the
airports are ready for the World Cup and
"the great majority of the work ... is already
Civil Aviation Minister Moreira Franco
conceded a few months ago that there were
"delays in the work in several airports."
"I have said that, regarding the airports
for the World Cup, we don t have a Plan B,
only a Plan A," he told Brazilian media.
"The timetable is set and the airports need
to be ready to be operating and attending to
the demands we will have during the tour-
That will entail handling an expected
600,000 international visitors---as well as
some 3 million Brazilians expected to travel
during the World Cup.
The local World Cup organising committee
declined to comment on the situation at the
airports, saying they are the responsibility
of the local government.
Massa, the consultant---and a former
superintendent at airports in Rio de Janeiro
and Belo Horizonte---said he doesn t think
Brazil will face chaos during the World Cup.
"From what I m seeing so far, all the cur-
rent work under way at the airports will be
completed in time," he said.
"I think there is a need to be extra careful
in the cities of Cuiaba and Natal, but the
situation of the airports in general should
not cause great concern during the World
Cup next year."
A few problems were reported during the
Confederations Cup in June, which served
as a warm-up for local organisers, but Brazil s
airports mostly passed that test.
Only eight nations participated in the tour-
nament, however, and only about three per
cent of the fans came from abroad---in con-
trast to what s expected for the month-long,
32-nation World Cup.
A few years ago, Ricardo Teixeira, then
president of the Brazilian football federation,
warned that Brazil had three main problems
to solve ahead of the World Cup: "Airports,
airports and airports."
The coming ten months will show whether
he was right.
LONDON---County side Surrey says it
has signed top-ranked test and one-day
international batsman Hashim Amla for
the remainder of the English season.
Surrey says Amla will be available for
the team's six remaining games in the
County Championship and will make his
debut against Durham on August 22.
The South African joins his compa-
triot and test captain Graeme Smith,
who signed for Surrey this year.
In a statement released by Surrey
yesterday, Amla said he was looking
forward to returning to the London-
based team's home ground, The Oval,
where he hit a South African test-
record 311 not out against England last
Surrey director of cricket Alec Stew-
art said the 30-year-old Amla, who av-
erages over 52 in test cricket with 19
centuries, was "unquestionably a world-
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Surrey signs world's top batsman Amla
Brazil faces tough task
..... to ready airports for World Cup
In this July 18 photo, construction continues on the control tower at the Deputado Luis Eduardo
Magalhaes International Airport in Salvador, Brazil. Brazil faces a last-minute scramble to get
its notoriously crowded and shabby airports into shape for a huge influx of World Cup fans
next June, as delays have left planners with barely any time to spare. (AP PHOTO)
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