By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Saturday, May 18th, the city of Rio de Janeiro continues yet another clean-up operation following the week’s heavy rain, which saw the closure of Avenida Niemeyer and the collapse of Túnel Acústico Rafael Mascarenhas.
The city’s mayor, Marcelo Crivella, who was previously criticized for his lack of investment in Rio’s infrastructure following April’s floods, visited the site of the collapse on Saturday morning.
“The tunnel entrance is already all clean,” he comments, as reported by O Globo.
“Our problem now is to prop up this column and a beam so we can work on top and make sure that on the slope there are no more mudslides that could affect the structure of the tunnel roof. It will be a hard day,” Crivella adds.
The rain is forecast to continue until Sunday, with some commentators saying that Rio is in a “crisis stage”, following this week’s developments.
A huge landslide caused the shut-down, destroying an unoccupied house in its wake. The road has been particularly vulnerable this year, having been shut down twice previously.
While the heaviest rainfall is now over, officials are still warning residents to exercise caution, as further landslides are possible. The Mayor himself has asked that drivers only use the reopened avenue in cases of “extreme necessity,” as reported by G1.
People are once again pointing the finger at the city government for disasters that could have been avoided, or at least predicted. “I believe it is clear that there is a lack of prevention and maintenance, which is the responsibility of the Prefecture,” comments Bruno Kazuhiro of Diario do Rio.
“The Secretary of Conservation and the Infrastructure Secretariat, who should be keeping an eye on the tunnels and viaducts, and Geo-Rio, which should be attentive to the slopes of Avenida Niemeyer and other parts of Rio, are all under the command of Mayor Crivella,” he continues.
Kazuhiro concludes his article with a stinging indictment of the current mayor, who recently resisted calls for his impeachment.
“Instead of blaming the rain, the lack of resources or whatever, it would be better for Crivella to admit his mistakes and correct them urgently. If the mayor prefers to say that the current financial and meteorological scenario makes their management unfeasible, then better give up and give way to someone who can get us out of this situation,” he concludes.