A few days ahead of the Confederations Cup and exactly one year to go until the World Cup finals in Brazil, many of the infrastructure projects in the country’s 12-host cities won’t be ready on time.
Heavy traffic, no trains between cities, poor inner city public transport and undersized airports remain a major challenge for the country, which is expecting 3 million tourists during the finals.
Everyday, 38 planes per hour come and go from Brazilian airports – the international average is 88.
Four airports are being extended, but will struggle to be ready on time and are expected to lead to serious delays. Not exactly what was promised originally.
Former World Cup winner Romario said: ‘‘When Brazil decided to host the World Cup, many promises were made for the population, but these promises stayed on paper. (Promises such as) improvements in urban transportation and access for the disabled.
Fellow Brazilian footballing legend Zico added: ‘‘Nowadays, I’m really concerned with the issue surrounding airports, hotels, technology, telecommunications are bad and everything is overloaded. We are not ready in terms of infrastructure to host the World Cup.’‘
In Rio, on the surface, all appears on track to host the masses, but underground is another story.
The new subway system won’t be ready in time leaving only two lines available and with buses ineffective in heavy traffic many tourists visiting the city have been left unimpressed.
Getting around the big cities is difficult. In Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, the subway is the most crowded in the world with about four million people using it per day.
Similar chaotic scenes can be found on the roads, seven million cars for 20 million people. During heavy rain, roads get flooded and the traffic gets even worse.
So, as the World Cup looms large, the government has come up with a plan to reduce the amount of traffic to help with the smooth running of the tournament.
Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said: ‘‘In addition to the new infrastructure projects, we know that some of the ongoing constructions may not be ready on time. We are planning to reduce the inconvenience with operational measures, such as implementing exceptional bank holidays on match days. This measure, will reduce the problems of traffic and the demand for public transportation.
It means for a city hosting four or five games during the World Cup, there will be four or five bank holidays within the space of 25 days.
When asked whether he thought this could have a negative impact on cities and eventually the country’s economy Fernandes added: ‘‘I think the negative impact would be less than the gains of a well-organised World Cup, in terms of efficiency and image we give to the rest of the world.’‘
Massive public funding has been the major financial fuel in hosting the finals and to date the government has already spent some 11 billion euros.
With one year left until show-time it is estimated that spending could double prompting widespread condemnation from the tax payers.
But Fernandes argued: ‘‘We are building new transport lines not for the World Cup, but for the future of Brazil and the population. The World Cup is a one-month event and this infrastructure will serve for the future. Another example is that we are creating a national network of high-speed internet access for the entire country, even for the Amazon region, which has not had Internet access before. This will be fantastic for Brazil.
Romario had another perspective saying: ‘‘Unfortunately today, a lot of things concerning the World Cup are not positive for the country, most of the spending and investments are not necessary, because Brazil still has a lot of social and public problems: public hospitals and schools are really bad and they don’t invest in those areas. However, as a Brazilian I’m very positive and I want to believe that the World Cup would be good for the country and bring benefits for the future.