Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Transport issues in Rio, 13 June 2012

L - R Kathleen Leewai, Brianna Fruean, Pauline Fruean....on their way to the Youth Blast Summit

From Fiji to Papua New Guinea to Samoa then on to Rio!  Ms. Kathleen Leewai, the Publications and Communications Intern at SPREP is attending her first international environment conference - the Rio+20, this has been made possible with support from PACMAS, SPREP and Conservation International Pacific Island Program.  Born and raised in Fiji, Kathleen has lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia and now in Samoa at SPREP where she works as the Publications and Communications Intern.  This is Kathleens first time outside of the Pacfic region, read about her experiences!

"I have always lived in big cities in the Pacific; first Suva, then Port Moresby, and, largest of all, Melbourne.

But not even Melbourne can compare to the size of Rio de Janeiro. The second largest city in Brazil, Rio is spread over 1,260 km2 (approximately 486 square miles) and has a population of approximately 6.3 million people living in the city itself.

And driving is not recommended if you are not a local.

Driving fast in Rio
The locals drive fast. Really fast. And they have their own set of road rules that only they seem to understand. At one point we were in a taxi and paused in four lanes of traffic but the road was only painted with two lanes. I’m not sure how that is even physically possible, but it seems to be standard practice here.

The city is so big, and it takes a while to get pretty much anywhere. We went from Riocentro Convention Centre (venue for Rio+20) to the SulAmerica Convention Centre (venue for Youth Blast Conference of Youth for Rio+20) in the centre of the city and the trip took close to an hour with almost no traffic.

The trip back was a whole ‘nother story. Going from the Convention Centre to the edge of the main city centre, a journey of about 15 km, took the better part of two hours and then took another half an hour to get to the shopping centre close by our apartment where we stopped to get supplies.

We were only there for a few minutes and knew the trip home took less than 5 minutes, but we ended up having to wait another two hours just trying to find transport. The only thing we could do was find a place to sit and wait, but at least we managed to fill the time by writing.

For a one hour trip down, it took us four times as long to get back. It was certainly not an experience I’m willing to repeat any time soon, but with the influx of officials and participants for Rio+20, it looks very likely to be a regular occurrence.

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