By Philip Sever, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The former president of Rioluz, the company linked to Rio de Janeiro’s municipal administration that is responsible for the some 380,000 public lights in the city, admits that there is unequal distribution of street lamps between different areas of Rio de Janeiro. Some areas the lights have increased, while leaving other areas of the city in the dark. Zone Norte and Zone Oeste are the area’s most affected by the lack of lighting.
The Prefeitura has recently stated that 53% of the Rioluz budget will be used to install 72,000 new street lamps. However according to Eletrobras, of R$20.9 million made available for the city between 2004 and 2008, the National Program for Efficient Public Lighting, only R$7.8 million was invested. According to the State, the money should have been used in the deployment of 72,000 new street lamps over the four years and this has still not occurred.
Currently the city has only installed 47% of the street lamps provided in the project. The remaining 38,160 sites are still in the dark.
Zona Oeste has the worst lighting in Rio de Janeiro despite being the most highly populated area of the city with about 3 million inhabitants. Centro and Zone Sul, which have far less inhabitants per square kilometer, have far more street lamps. Zona Norte is well illuminated on Avenida Brasil and Linha Amarela, however even these areas have considerably less lighting when compared with areas like Copacabana and Botafogo.
However Zona Sul is not exempt from problems, even in Ipanema and Leblon, areas like Jardim de Alah remain poorly lit, and a number of muggings have taken place on this street. This indicates how street crime can be directly attributed to poor lighting and this problem is something that affects all parts of the city.
Santa Cruz, Barra da Tijuca and Campo Grande were the worst areas in the city. The former president of Rioluz, Sidney Falcão, admits that street lighting is not uniform in Rio de Janeiro “The distance between lamp posts on each road varies. In Zona Sul, for example, streets are much wider and therefore need more lamps. In the Zona Oeste, the roads are smaller”.
The Secretary of Municipal Works, Luiz Antônio Guarana, is said to have initiated talks with the directors of Eletrobrás to try to resume the program. The new proposal has been drawn up by Rioluz and is ready for presentation. Among the areas considered priorities are Guaraná Brasil, Cesário de Melo, Marechal Rondon, Marechal Fontenele, Salvador Allende, the Americas, Rua 24 de maio and Estrada Intendente Magalhaes.
Launched in the year 2000, the “shines down” project, invested R$2 billion into the installation of new street lamps and the replacement of white lights with yellow lights, which are more economical. The expectation is that by 2010, 1 million new street lamps will have been installed in Brazil.