On Friday 3 July, ARTICLE 19 South America launched a report “2016: Violations of access to information in the case of Transolimpica bus rapid transit system (BRT).“ The study analyzes access to information in the construction of the Transolímpica BRT – an express bus lane worth 1.6 billion reais (320 million pounds), that will connect the city of Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, which the city is hosting.
The construction of the Transolimpica BRT has been the cause of the displacement of many already-impoverished families. The residents consulted stated that they were not supplied with sufficient information by the local government.
The report presents a highly critical picture: a concerning lack of transparency and restriction of information found in public agencies, at state, federal and local levels. It was not possible to discover the definitive route of the work, nor complete information on the environmental licensing, which is being investigated by prosecutors. Furthermore, the Federal Government, despite being the major funder, was demonstrated not to have the information requested about the work either.
During the period of the research, the public agencies which have any level of involvement with the work were analyzed regarding Active Transparency (spontaneous disclosure of information) and Passive Transparency (access to information after a formal requirement). Under both aspects, a very low level of transparencywas found.
“The lack of transparency in Rio de Janeiro is very serious, given the scale and impact of the Transolímpica BRT on Rio’s population and environment, and furthermore by it being advertised as one of the main legacies of the Olympic Games”, says Camila Nobrega, a researcher responsible for the report.
She adds: “The work has been responsible for profound changes in the urban space of the city: major environmental impact and drastic effects on the lives of thousands of people, especially those who were forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for construction work “.
Mariana Tamari, from the Access to Information programme at ARTICLE 19, says the lack of transparency in the construction of Transolímpica BRT is a clear violation of the right to information. “If there is no public information available, public participation in the debate on this issue is undermined, limiting any real possibility to affect the decision-making process,” she states.
Read the full report here (Portuguese only).