As preparations get underway for Rio de Janeiros hosting of the 2016 Summer Olympics, construction has commenced on the citys new rapid bus transit system.
With a deadline that now stands less than two years away, up to 900 families from the Vila União favela stand to be displaced by the end of the month in order to make room for the new roads construction.
The new rapid bus transit system is one of the keystones of the various infrastructure projects, which are taking place throughout the city leading up to the summer games. As Donna Bowater of Al Jazeera America explains:
The authorities expect up to 70,000 passengers a day will use the new $660 million system to travel between Barra da Tijuca, where the athletes village will be, and the Deodoro zone, the site for several Olympic sports. The TransOlímpica route will pass through the parallel Tudorbethan streets, currently lined with crooked, overhanging homes and jury-rigged webs of cable.
However, for all its benefits, the accompanying relocation of so many residents raises questions as to the projects merits and viability. Amnesty International reports that nearly 20,000 families have been relocated since construction began on Olympic facilities.
Bowater goes on to report that most residents will receive compensative payment or alternative housing options by explaining that, The families who live there have been offered compensation payments or a new apartment in nearby Colônia Juliano Moreira, built under the governments Minha Casa, Minha Vida (“my home, my life) program. The $46 million apartment blocks are due to be inaugurated in September and will take in families until early next year.
Consequently, most residents have welcomed the move as an improvement from their current living conditions, but the obligatory nature of the relocation has left some residents disgruntled with the forced housing removal. In an interview with Al Jazeera America, the president of the favelas resident association explained that, Its sad. This is a peaceful, safe community. We dont have trafficking or crime, but the works have to happen. The TransOlímpica has to pass through here. Im doing everything I can to make sure the community is satisfied.
Many Brazilians remain optimistic that the infrastructure projects will provide ample job opportunities to local residents and result in a positive long-term legacy for the Olympics. However, the massive relocations and uncertainty as to the long-term benefitsor detrimentsof hosting the Olympics have so far left a tinge of doubt in the nations mind.
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