By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following the success of the gondola system in the Complexo do Alemão in 2011, a new ‘Teleférico’ is set to begin testing next month on the Morro do Providência. The new gondola will span Rio’s oldest favela community and comes as part of Rio’s PAC spending program to implement new infrastructure in some of Rio’s poorest areas.
Providência has been earmarked for improvements totaling R$131 million, R$40 million of which is going towards the teleférico. “This project has two roles. The first is to serve the population of the hill. Another role is [to attract] tourists,” Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes told assembled reporters when he visited the site in October.
The gondola method of transport has proved popular with residents of Complexo do Alemão, who have been enjoying the benefits of greatly reduced commute times and faster access to the city. “It’s made my life much easier,” Julia Soares who lives in Complexo do Alemão told The Rio Times.
The new teleférico will consist of a 660 meter run with three stations located at Cidade do Samba, Providência, and the Central do Brasil train station. Sixteen gondolas each carrying 8-to-10 people will transport up to one thousand passengers an hour. The total length of the journey time will be a speedy six minutes.
The teleférico is held in high regard by the inhabitants of Complexo do Alemão and similar expectations surround the new gondola project. “It will facilitate the lives of more than seven thousand residents,” Eduardo Paes continued.
Much like the teleférico in Complexo do Alemão, residents of the favela community will be entitled to use the gondolas twice a day free of charge. Tourists and visitors will have to pay a small fee to use the service, R$1 per trip.
“It’s going to be great, it costs R$10 a day and takes a long time to get my produce up here. [But now] we’re not going to have to pay to carry our produce up.” Sonia De Azeuedo who owns a business at the top of Morro de Providência told The Rio Times.
However unlike its predecessor, the project at Providência has been tinged by controversy, with forced relocations and demolitions having sparked protests in the area.
“Some people are frustrated that they will have to relocate. But not because they have to leave, they are upset that others have devalued their homes. I would be very sad if they devalued my house, and that’s happening to the people who have to leave,” Mrs. De Azeuedo explained.
Overall however the response in the community appears a very positive one, with most inhabitants looking forward to advantages that such a massive infrastructure upgrade will bring. The project is currently set to begin testing next month, with an inauguration ceremony scheduled for February.
Further planned improvements in Morro do Providência concern upgrades to the sewage and drainage systems, the implementation of new water supply networks and the widening of streets and pavements. In June 2011 the community was one of over forty of Rio’s favelas to lose their ‘unofficial’ status and be reclassified as official municipal ‘urban communities’ under new city hall minimum quality standards.