It seems it’s not just Wujiang Lu and Shanghai’s historic houses that are suffering a severe shake up, or, in many cases, total demolition. In hastily tidying up the city for the 2016 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are also subject to spring clean at the hands of mayor Eduardo Paes’ “Shock Order” programme, the New York Times reported today.
The Times’ Alexei Barrionuevo said,
Citing health reasons, the mayor has outlawed the sale of boiled corn and freshly cooked foods like steak and shrimp on the sand. And for still less obvious safety reasons, beachgoers are prohibited from playing paddle ball or kicking a soccer ball near the water’s edge between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pets at the beach? Forget about it.
In the program’s first month, city officials confiscated 2,375 items on the beaches, including portable grills, drinks, push carts, clothes and cooking utensils. Shock Order agents also arrested 62 people over the past two weekends for not availing themselves of the 4,000 chemical toilets that have been set up around the city for Carnaval — twice as many as last year.
For anyone who has hit Rio’s beaches, it’s hard to imagine them without the array of clothing, food and drinks vendors selling everything from towels to skirts, pastries to shrimp, freshly-made caipirinhas to huge coconuts. But it’s not all bad news, as Barrionuevo reminds us: “In the case of maté, a Brazilian iced tea sold by vendors shouldering small metal kegs, the reaction proved too strong and a ban was relaxed.”
The results appear to be mixed: while the jobs of these vendors are clearly at risk, many of Rio’s residents are welcoming the change and asking it be extended beyond Avenida Atlantica to their own neighbourhoods. Unlike in China, then, it seems these attempts at a clean up aren’t based simply on ‘sanitary’ aesthetics.