Posts Tagged ‘teleférico’

[I used Google Translate due to lack of time/thesis writing stress]

(Original text written by Pela Moradia; the blog of a collective aiding urban occupations of the “movemento sem teto” (movement of those without roof) in Rio de Janeiro).

Employees of the contractor hired by the city of Rio de Janeiro had the help of military police unit Pacification Police (UPP) installed in the Morro da Providencia (the oldest favela of Rio de Janeiro), in the city center to take the square Americo Brum, located within the community. The square began to attract public in 2008 when three young men were abducted by military personnel and handed in to a rival faction, which then killed the boys.

The area is being requested by the municipality to start the building of the cable car (see other blogpost), which is part of the community redevelopment plan and the project “Marvelous Port”, a project for the regeneration of the port. This work will involve the removal of dozens of families. Together with the houses that the municipality claims to be at risk areas, the number of buildings to be removed comes close to 700. As has occurred in other areas of the city (currently 150 aproxidamente slums are threatened or in process of removal), there is no dialogue with local residents, who do not know exactly what will happen to them. The city did not provide details on the redevelopment project, much less explained the need to build a cable car. The only thing people know is that their houses  are marked with the inscription “SMH”. The lack of information marks the relationship of government with the residents, who question the need for removal of houses.

This morning, residents had scheduled a breakfast, as a form of protest against the order of the square Americo Brum and by not removing the housing. However, with the help of local police UPP, those responsible for works invaded and surrounded the square, preventing the entry of the residents. Importantly, this is the only recreational area in Providence, largely used by young children in the locality. Yet at no time was discussed with residents the need to end this living space, much less whether it would be rebuilt elsewhere. Just arrived, surrounded and prevented people to use. The municipality even respected the school holidays. Many young people, with this arbitrary action, will be without a space in which to meet and have fun, since there is no other place close by and free for leisure activities. Not only the right to information and housing, the municipal government breached the right to leisure, sociability as important to children and young people.

Residents are preparing another protest at the moment. They think the form of treatment by the municipality is unfair and demand to be heard by the public.

 

The example of the Cable Car in Complexo do Alemão has demonstrated the impact on the lives of the residents. Hundreds if not thousands of people are replaced, dumbs emerged where houses were removed, violation of privacy as the cars pass closely above the houses and rooftops, resident’s fear of height and therefore avoiding to use the cable car, etc. To my surprise, it has indeed been inaugurated two weeks ago, with the presence of a very proud president. A Dutch Newspaper (will add source later) wrote how this would benefit the community! However, for now, it only works between 10 and 14hrs, from Monday to Friday, thus prodiving a new form of leisure for the local youth rather than an efficient form of transport. As I have heard, though, these kids messing around in the cable car are loving it!!

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On March 23 I wrote one of my first blog posts about Complexo do Alemão and the occupation. I wrote about the cable car (Teleférico) that is a project of the government’s PAC program and built as a new form of public transport within the community. Supposedly it would improve the mobility of the community residents; one couldn’t imagine the benefits it brings to the community! But this fairy tale hasn’t yet a very happy ending. Until today the cable car hasn’t been inaugurated…

The thing would be inaugurated on the 7th of April, two weeks after my — already not too positive — blogpost on the general opinion of the residents. I rescheduled my flight to Colombia to be able to join the event. A lot of important people and the press would cover this remarkable day for the Complexo do Alemão. “Finally the mototaxi’s and the vans could be substituted by the teleférico….”

The 7th of April nothing happened. The end of May nothing either; no precise date would prevent people from getting too many expectations. Sometimes we saw the cable car functioning, but that were only test drives.

Now that June has arrived, new promises are made for the “end” of this month. Interestingly, I heard my neighbours talking about a group of strangers — “probably Americans” — who came to visit and inspect the cable car, and proclaimed that the thing would place the houses and buildings below its cables at risk. Meaning that all the houses below the cable car should be removed.

That makes us wonder why a cable car, which has cost around a billion Dollars, if the houses have to be removed anyway. Why not a asphalted street? Or perhaps that wouldn’t even been necessary, as there already are streets. Asphalted, with well-functioning though informal transport (mototaxi, vans). Besides that, over the last couple of weeks more and more people tell me that they wouldn’t use the cable car anyway, as they are afraid of height. While transport is already functioning well in the community, wouldn’t it be more valuable to build a school? A university? A hospital? A library? ….

Residents are starting to realise that the cable car will not be inaugurated, yet. Will it ever? What would Sergio Cabral (the governor) decide if it they really have to remove all the houses and replace the residents (which will cost another billion, if not more)? What weighs more, the shame of “cancelling” the increadibly expensive cable car and admitting that it’s a worthless thing, or investing another billion of dollar for the removal of the houses? Hopefully Cabral can face his error of implementing a useless object and save the houses of the many residents living below the cable car. Because it would be very painful to be forced to leave your house for a cable car which you would be afraid use.

As I wrote earlier, residents — and I share their opinion — think the cable car merely as a tourist attraction. It’s a very impressive construction on the top of hill; you can see the stations even from the city centre (Complexo do Alemão is located in the North Zone, far from the centre). Moreover, it’s about the only construction on top of the hills, as most of the PAC projects are built below, near the asphalt. Apparently, as an architect told me, the focus on the lower part of the hill is justified as there’s a general consensus among urban planners that there shouldn’t be built anything above 100 meters because of ecological reasons (erosion, parts of the favela sliding down through heavy rainfall, etc.). Either this is nonsense and just serves to justify certain choices and interests (favela residents got furious when I discussed this with them: “They just want to remove the favela!”), or the cable car is build in areas of risk. In any case it’s contradictory, which is in itself is terrible as the favela isn’t a place for urban experiments, but the home of a large part of the population of Rio de Janeiro.

The cable car is a hot topic as it has radically changed the face of the favela. People are excited because it’s such a massive construction, and the inauguration will attract a lot of media attention, events and famous people to the community. However, for now and as always, the residents are left poorly informed, watching the empty cars passing above their houses. When?

Two weeks ago someone told me about the cable car (Teleférico) that was built in Complexo do Alemão after the occupation. From that moment it got my attention. I was curious to know more about such an installation as a means of public transport. Just imagine using a cable car as your daily way of transport to your work, or to visit a friend. This is the general reaction of people not living in Complexo do Alemão. “That thing is so going to improve their mobility”.

Last week, when I visited Complexo do Alemão for the first time, I got to see it. It’s not working yet, but I did see the cars moving as from time to time they test drive to ensure safety before the actual inauguration next month. I decided to try to take this “object” as a way to investigate the general opinion on the ocupation/pacification* of their community.

First some general information about the Complexo do Alemão. It’s a complex consisting of 14 communities and in total counts about 400.000 residents. That’s more or less the size of the third biggest city of the Netherlands. It used to be controlled by the Comando Vermelho until the invasion of the Brazilian army in November 2010. The invasion was the initiation of the PAC (Acceleration of Growth Program) and the pacification of the area. Different than the other communities that are being pacified by the UPP (pacification police unit – police that have been trained to interact with the community residents) Complexo do Alemão is occupied by the army. The pacification paved the way for companies to enter community. Commisioned by the municipality construction companies build apartments, squares, roads, stairs, and the cable car. Thus, the cable car is one of the many changes in the community, but it reflects a certain idea persistent in the community about the general approach of the project.

People explain me that althrough the cable car will be the major form of public transport, there were built 5 stations in order to attend the entire community (of 400.000 people). I could also see by myself that the cars, equipped with no more than 6 seats – in buses passengers not necessarily need a seat, in a cable car I imagine they do – don’t move very quickly. The capacity to transport the amount of people is doubtful.

I could also perceive a certain distrust or resistance towards the stations, which serve as the bases of the army. People told me how the stations are strategically positioned rather than facilitating the transport within the community. If it really were to benefit the community residents they would have been asked where to build the stations. Instead, they feel their opinion and knowledge of the structure of the community is neglected.

Besides the idea that the cable car does not really match their needs in terms of transport, people explain me how it could possibly generate the community. People could have stands inside the stations and sell goods (e.g. Food, drinks, snacks, movies/cd’s, etc.). As far as they know, however, this is prohibited as the stations are owned by the cable car company, which will not allow these types of commerce.

When I ask them why they think the cable car has been built most people answer: “for the government to show the favela to tourists”. It turns out that the cable car in Complexo do Alemão serves a cable car’s more common function as a tourist or fairground attraction. It responds to the increasing popularity of “the favela” by NGOs, social projects, artists and tourists (see: favela tour). The people I spoke with do not reject this curiosity about their way of life at all. They just want to have a voice in the way their life is exposed to others. Not to be used as an object of tourism, but to interact with visitors, to learn from each other, and establish mutual understanding and knowledge about their cultures. And if possible, to have a share in the profit. Only than development can be sustainable and fair.

And about the pacification and development of their community? A similar answer returns often. They know their community best. Why aren’t they consulted about what works best in their community?

I wonder what will happen next month. Will the cable car be used by the local residents? Will it really be a tourist attraction? I’ll keep you posted.

* Note the controversy: occupation and pacification are supposed to go hand in hand in this context.