The clock strikes 6’o clock in the evening and you can hear various horns near and far, and see an intense melee of cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, vans, pedestrians, dogs, and a few trash bags. All this on Gávea Street, the main road in Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha.
In addition to the dispute over space, which ranges from squabbles over whose vehicle can pass first to bus drivers clipping cars parked on the street, the lack of traffic lights is also concerning: without this service, traffic jams form more easily and pedestrians struggle to navigate through.
Known for its busy activity, especially at peak hours, Gávea Street is a difficult route to navigate due to insufficient space for the high demand from people and vehicles, the lack of traffic lights, and many potholes.
For 21-year-old resident Letícia Afonso, moving through the area is not an easy task. “My biggest challenge is walking in certain parts of the street, since there are places without sidewalks and places that are dirty with overflowing sewage or garbage,” explained the young local, who also drives and added a caveat. “Driving with so many motorcycles around you, paying attention to pedestrians walking on the street, sometimes since there are no sidewalks, is very difficult. There could be traffic monitors during peak hours, since sometimes cars even start driving on the wrong side of the road when there are large vehicles. This would help people cross as well as help improve traffic flow. I also believe that Rocinha’s population could help the situation with a little more awareness and education,” Afonso added.
In addition to various problems such as the accumulation of trash in the open, the lack of small garbage cans along the street, and irregular sidewalks or areas without any sidewalks, another constant problem for those who pass through Gávea Street are the innumerable potholes, which interfere with the pace of traffic and are a danger to cars as well as pedestrians who cross the street.
The same challenges were reported by 33-year-old Marco Antônio, known as Marquinho, who has been working as a moto-taxi driver for 10 years. “Street maintenance is precarious, repairs are done but they don’t last long and the potholes quickly return. My motorcycle has broken many times because of this. Since the space is small, it would really help if the buses that circulate through the community were smaller and if there were more traffic monitors during busy hours. This would make things easier for everyone,” said Marquinho.
In an interview with FavelaDaRocinha.com on March 22, the administrator of the 17th Administrative Region of Rocinha, Marco Antônio de Oliveira, said that the requested road works were due to take place in the next few days. “There’s a great demand in Rocinha and I understand that there are complaints, but there are also other localities that need to be attended to in addition to Rocinha, that’s why there’s a delay. The road paving work was already requested and construction will begin this week. The traffic lights were already requested,” Oliveira stated. However, at the time of publication, in late June 2018, we were unable to obtain a response regarding the updated start date for the road works.
The administrator pointed to other services that are being carried out in Rocinha. “Initiatives to remove garbage from the areas of Macega and Roupa Suja, reconnect electricity, and fortify slopes in Dioneia and Cachopa are underway. All for the sake of improving the community,” Oliveira emphasized.
Even with almost every type of vehicle passing on a daily basis, and even with congestion and people circulating alongside bar tables and animals, Gávea Street resists. The population awaits improvements and maintenance not only for their main street but also for all of Rocinha, which, despite everything, has its charms.
This article was written by Amanda Pinheiro and produced in partnership between RioOnWatch and FavelaDaRocinha.com. A black woman raised in Rocinha, Amanda is a journalism student and passionate about music, art, sports, and culture. FavelaDaRocinha.com is an informative news site about Rocinha and everything related, with the objective of informing, enabling, and developing socially-oriented action in the community. Follow FavelaDaRocinha.com on Facebook here.