The heavy rainfall that struck the northern Rio de Janeiro state municipality of Petrópolis in recent weeks has served as an ugly reminder of the realities of housing policy for Brazil´s lower income groups – with 1,074 people still homeless as a result of flooding and mudslides. Late last week, it was reported that resettlement progress after a similar event that struck the “Morro do Bumba” region in Niterói three years ago has been barely negligible (the disaster resulted in 47 deaths and a several hundred families losing the roofs over their heads).
To date, some R$ 22 million was invested under the Minha Casa, Minha Vida (“My House, My Life”) program into an apartment complex consisting of 11 buildings aimed at 454 families worst affected by the disaster (many of whom still remain in favelas and other forms of insalubrious accommodation). In addition to what has been a major delivery delay (the developments were supposed to be ready in June 2012), the photo below – extracted from the Veja magazine (the Reinaldo Azevedo blog) – demonstrates why engineering specialists are arguing that 2 of the buildings are at risk of collapse (the cracks are seen from some distance away).
As a result, the development has been paralysed. “The large accumulation of water has ended up infiltrating the soil – prompting cracks in the development. We need to demolish two of the buildings; reform the foundation and reconstruct in order for there to be greater security,” commented Waldemar Neto, manager of the Imperial Serviços Ltda.
With each building costing R$ 2 million each, the Caixa Econômica Federal is awaiting a technical report in order to be able to evaluate the situation fully. If the incident is classified as an “accident” then the damages are likely to be payable by the development´s insurer; if prompted by negligence then it is likely that the construction company will pay.