Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Transit laws to become more lenient !

From 1990 to 2000, more than 300,000 people died in Brazil because of problems related to transit (see here). In 1997, a new Code of Transit was passed; this Code is comparable to those in developed countries.

According to the original Code, over speeding was severely punished.
Driving at a speed up to 20% faster than the limit was considered serious infraction, and the fine was R$ 191; from 20% to 50%, the infraction was considered very serious, and the fine was R$ 573 (for comparison, the minimum wage in Brazil is R$ 360 monthly); driving above 50% the limit caused immediate losing of driving license.
Even with this tough legislation, Brazilian drivers were careless (because of lack of policing by the authorities and lack of education of drivers).

Yesterday, instead of tightening the legislation, the Federal government decided to loosen it.
Driving up to 20% faster than limit is now considered medium infraction, fine of R$ 85; up to 50% faster is serious, fine of R$ 191.

If you visited Brazil and found the transit chaotic, expect to find it worse next time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Judicial order to prevent dengue in Natal

Dengue is a tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes which exists in several States of Brazil, including Rio Grande do Norte.

For a few years now, the Government has maintained a programme to combat dengue. The intent is to kill the larvae of the mosquitoes, which need still water to incubate (like the water of abandoned swimming pools, flower vases, abandoned tires); the rainy season (April - August) is the best period to do it.
During this period, there are smoke-trucks going around the city (the smoke, harmless to humans, creates a layer on top of still water, killing larvae) and there are health crews visiting each house in Natal.
Thanks to this action, the number of cases of dengue is becoming fewer and fewer (a few people died in past years, though).

Strange as it may seem, one of the problems faced by the government is the lack of collaboration from the population. Several houses are locked, preventing access from the crews, and there are also several families who, for several reasons (all related to ignorance), do not want to give access to the crews.

Yesterday, Judge Odlanir Sakel Maia Guedes authorized the Health Secretary to enter 227 houses in Natal, using police force if necessary.

Good to see that the health authorities are doing their jobs.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ronaldo to visit Natal

Ronaldo, the football player of Real Madrid, is coming to Natal this Sunday, July 23rd.
Ronaldo maintains a foundation, the R9, which fosters social programmes in Brazil (Ronaldo is also a UNICEF Ambassador). Ronaldo learned about the social programmes being developed by the Government of Rio Grande do Norte and partners, and accepted an invitation to visit the city and join the programmes.
Officials say that the presence of Ronaldo and R9 will help the programmes gain visibility and credibility.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Each day, 184 drivers are fined in Natal

On July 16th, Tribuna published statistics about the transit in Natal.
Full article is here.
According to STTU, the official Transit Authority in Natal, in the year of 2005, a total of 67,200 transit fines were imposed; this accounts to 184 fines/day, or a fine every eight minutes.

The main infractions were: passing red lights; over speeding; parking in forbidden places; driving while talking to a cell phone; forbidden conversions.

Interesting to notice the reaction of the readers.
Most people who posted a reply considered that there is an excessive number of fines; several people accuse police and transit wardens of corruption; many complain that the transit equipment is obsolete or ill maintained, and others complain that there is not enough space to park.
The Brazilian middle class is not accostumed to obeying the law.

But anyone who looks around the transit in Natal can see that this amount of fines is too low, not too high. For each driver who is fined for crossing a red light, there are other ten drivers who are not noticed; the same happens for all the other infractions. If all infractors in Natal were caught, the number of fines would be much higher.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tourism in Natal lower than expected

July is considered a high season month for the tourism sector in Natal. Children take a winter break, and many people travel to the Northeast of Brazil escaping from the cold weather of the South.

However, Tribuna do Norte published an article today where hotel owners inform that the sector is facing a crisis, and about 30% of the work force (6,000 people) have been laid off recently. The original article is here.

A few factors are known to have caused a decrease in the tourism flow: the World Cup (many people stayed home to watch the Cup, and many others preferred to buy a plasma TV instead of travelling); the crisis of Varig, the largest Brazilian air liner, which is facing an eminent bankruptcy; the strong Real (the dollar rate is about US$1=R$2.20, and at this rate it may be cheaper to go from São Paulo to Miami or Buenos Aires than to come to Natal); the bad weather.

Hotel owners say that the State Government is to blame; the Syndicate of Hotels say that there has not been enough marketing of the city in other States and other countries; they also notice that there have been four Secretaries of Tourism over the past four years, showing a lack of consistency in the politics.

However, it is interesting to notice what the readers of the papers have to say (at the bottom of the article, readers may post their opinions).
Most of the posters, both from Natal and other Brazilian States, say that the hotels in Natal are expensive, the prices in restaurants are high, the staff is not prepared, there is lack of signalization and information.