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April 27, 2010

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Official line over Expo: We're set for success

IT'S all systems go for the long-anticipated Shanghai World Expo that opens on Saturday after the sixth test run yesterday.

The good news came from Han Zheng, the city's mayor.

Shanghai "has full confidence that the 184-day Expo will run smoothly," Han told Vicente Loscertales, secretary general of the Bureau of International Expositions, who oversees the work of organizers of each World Expo.

Han said the Word Expo site passed a crucial test as the trial runs drew nearly a million visitors.

The test runs, from April 20, had 50,000 to 400,000 visitors each day.

About 60 national pavilions, roughly a third of the total, and a dozen performances were featured during the trials.

'More confidence'

Han said improvements had been made in security checks, visiting order, services, catering, price control, communication with Expo participants and cooperation across the city.

"Each test operation ran smoother than the previous one and that gives us more confidence," he said.

Security checks for visitors took about 10 seconds on the last two test runs, compared to 45 seconds on the first day.

Volunteers handed out tickets to the China Pavilion at several of the site's entrances from the third test run, much faster than queuing up in front of reservation machines.

Hand rails were installed yesterday for people who have to wait at popular pavilions.

Visitors can now find 12 newly built stalls selling bread and steamed buns at reasonable prices after complaints about high food prices.

The city government would send teams to monitor prices at the site and set up a hotline for complaints, Han said.

Bigger bins

"The government will strictly control commodity prices at the site," he said.

The organizer installed 500 more benches and 1,500 large litter bins around the site.

More tour buses will be added at the site after the Expo opening.

Han said the organizer would install more lighting and fountain facilities to attract night-time visitors.

He thanked the visitors from Shanghai and other provinces who offered many valuable suggestions to the organizer.

The organizer is confident of a smooth Expo, according to Hong Hao, director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

About 200,000 visitors jammed Expo's first trial day on April 20, with entry delays, long queues and many complaints about expensive food and drinks.

However, visitors yesterday were generally delighted.

"The Expo site is fantastic and I admire the efforts of the organizer," said Ralf Rehfuss from Germany, who went to the Hanover Expo in 2000.


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