In July this year, the winning team will hold aloft the World Cup in the Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. The joy on their faces may provide a sharp contrast with the pained expressions of inhabitants in 12 World Cup host cities who were told that they would benefit from state-of-the-art new infrastructure.
A report from Fox News found that in one of these host cities, Cuiaba, “pedestrians tiptoe across a road scarred with deep puddles, piles of gravel and a detour sign. Black oily slush leaves no room for missteps or steering mistakes”.
Instead of this wasteland, Cuiaba was supposed to be the proud host of a gleaming new $670 million, 13-mile light rail system linking the downtown area of the city with its airport. Estimates suggest that – at most – half a mile of track has been laid down so far.
It’s not just Cuiaba where scepticism about projects being completed on time (or even at all) is becoming rife. The report also referred to: a planned subway system and international air terminal, both scrapped in Belo Horizonte; a subway system postponed until after the tournament in Salvador; a runway at Rio’s airport due to be completed for the World Cup, which now may not be ready for the 2016 Olympics; and a cancelled monorail system in Manaus.
In fact, across all the host cities, the report found “many construction plans, hopelessly behind schedule, or…cancelled”.
Brazil will be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes as the weeks and months go by. One thing developers cannot necessarily rely upon as a plan B, however – unlike the lauded 11 in the famous yellow and blue kit – is the prospect of extra time.