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The Cities This Week: Edition 44




First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday, December 1. Of eight train cars, at least seven were off the tracks. Source: Craig Rutler/AP

First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday, December 1. Of eight train cars, at least seven were off the tracks. Source: Craig Rutler/AP

NEW YORK CITY

“A passenger train derailment Sunday morning killed at least four people and injured dozens more, officials said. Firefighters and emergency rescuers swarmed the scene near Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, where at least two train cars had flipped on their sides. One car was just feet away from the Harlem River. Three of the dead were thrown “as the train came off the track and was twisting and turning,” New York Fire Department Chief Edward Kilduff told reporters. Police divers were in the water hours after the crash searching for survivors, and cadaver dogs combed the wreckage. Authorities believe all the passengers have been accounted for, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters. It was unclear how fast the train was traveling and how many passengers were on board.” – CNN

BANGKOK

“At least two people have been killed and more than 50 injured after a week of anti-government protests in Bangkok turned violent. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Sunday in what organisers said was a final push to topple the embattled government. Some 30,000 protesters have gathered in various locations around the city – including government ministries, police headquarters, the prime minister’s office and television stations – to take part in the so-called “people’s revolution” with the aim of wresting control from the PM, Yingluck Shinawatra, and installing a “people’s council”. Sporting whistles, flags and anti-government banners, protesters at Government House – home to Yingluck’s offices – were met with teargas as they repeatedly attempted to break through concrete barriers and razor wire protecting the compound. Teargas and water cannon were also used in two other areas in the city. Many central businesses, including five major shopping malls, were closed for the day. The protesters believe Yingluck is a puppet of her brother Thaksin, the former PM ousted in a military coup in 2006 who was widely accused of being an anti-monarchist. The tycoon lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai after being convicted of corruption charges he claims were politically motivated.” – The Guardian

KINSHASA

“The United Nations today called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to take immediate action in light of alarming reports of disappearance and assassination of children and youth that coincide with a Government operation to tackle delinquency in Kinshasa. “According to information received, which is currently being verified, at least 20 people, including 12 children, have been reportedly killed,” stated a news release issued by the UN Children’s Fund, and the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO). The two organizations said the “alarming” reports of disappearance and assassination of young men and children coincide with the start of ‘Operation Likofi’ (Punch) which Congolese authorities began a week ago to curb urban delinquency in the capital.” – The UN

KIEV

“A huge rally has been taking place in the Ukrainian capital to oppose a government decision not to sign a deal on closer EU ties, despite a ban. Casualties were reported after clashes between protesters and police on the fringes of the rally. Police used tear gas and stun grenades to push back protesters near the presidential office. Elsewhere in the city centre, protesters stormed the city council building and took it over. News agencies said about 100,000 people rallied on Kiev’s Independence Square, defying a ban imposed a day earlier. Protesters are demanding the resignation of the government and new elections. President Viktor Yanukovych says Russian pressure was behind his decision not to sign the deal.” – BBC News

LONDON

“About 1,000 cyclists have staged a “die-in” protest in south-east London to call for the government to improve road safety in the city. The vigil outside Transport for London’s headquarters in Southwark follows the deaths of six cyclists killed in a two-week period. Organisers are calling for 10% of each London borough’s transport budget to be spent on cycling infrastructure. TfL said it was spending £1bn on road improvements. Organiser Donnachadh McCarthy said: “We want a real budget, at the moment we’re getting crumbs. “We want an integrated cycling network in London within five years and we want a say at the top table.” So called “die-ins” were staged during the 1970s in the Netherlands prompting a cycling revolution. Leader of Southwark Council Peter John said: “If we are going to follow a Dutch-style approach it will mean re-defining and re-planning how traffic moves around our capital, in a way that we haven’t really had before.” – BBC News

SAO PAULO

“At least three people have died in an accident at the Sao Paulo stadium due to host the World Cup opener in 2014. From reports, it looks like a fallen crane may have caused a partial collapse of the stadium’s stands. There’s not a ton of information out there right now on what exactly happened, but the timing is pretty awful for Brazil’s turn at hosting the 2014 World Cup games this summer. There are 12 venues in all for next year’s games, and FIFA set a December deadline for the completion of those facilities. Brazil was already struggling to meet that deadline. At the time of the collapse, the Sao Paulo stadium was 94 percent completed.”- Atlantic Cities

LAGOS

“Lagos Traffic Radio, 96.10 frequency modulation, is Nigeria’s first dedicated channel designed to provide traffic guides and updates to motorists and other road users across the state. Even though congestion remains a challenge in the metropolis and its suburbs, most road users believe the channel has tremendously helped the flow of traffic, writes Gboyega Akinsanmi. Penultimate Wednesday was particularly significant for Mr. Prince Demuyiwa. He had an appointment to honour on or before 12:30pm on Victoria Island, though lives in Fagba, a sprawling community under Ifako-Ijaye Local Government. He left home one and half hour earlier, thinking traffic congestion would have eased off. Ordinarily, every other Lagos resident would think likewise. Effectively at 11:00pm, Demuyiwa, a public servant, said he was already on his way to Victoria Island, expecting light traffic congestion at worst. He, successfully, went through Pen Cinema’s constriction and had linked Oworonsoki road, turning from Oshodi, an axis of traffic congestion. He was on the fast lane to his destination with a strong belief that he would arrive 30 minutes earlier than the appointed time. He was already approaching Anthony Bridge when an alert from Lagos Traffic Radio, advising the road users, who chose to link Lagos Island through Third Mainland Bridge, to find alternative route.”- This Day Live

JOHANNESBURG

“Enraged Johannesburg-based informal traders look set to reject an olive branch from city authorities at a meeting on Thursday, despite efforts by the city to break its impasse with thousands of hawkers evicted from the inner city. The city’s controversial “Operation Clean Sweep” — implemented last month in an attempt to clear congestion — has led to the forcible removal of hawkers. South Gauteng High Court Judge Ramarumo Monama on Wednesday ruled that an application by more than 2,000 verified informal traders lacked urgency and has to be heard in motion court. This means the traders — who are seeking to challenge the removals — will have to wait until next year to have the matter resolved, possibly without any means to trade in the inner city.” – BDLive

CAPE TOWN

“An illegal march on the city of Cape Town on Friday was called off on Thursday night by its organisers after the City of Cape Town was granted an urgent interdict to prevent the protest from taking place. The spokesperson for the Cape Town Informal Settlements Organisation, Sthembele Majava, said community representatives held a meeting in Site C in Khayelitsha to decide whether to continue with the march. “We weren’t worried there could be violence, and we weren’t worried about the City of Cape Town or the police,” said Majava. “We just have to respect the judicial system.” No further plans have been made for another march as yet, he said. On Thursday afternoon, Majava was buoyant and said the march would take place. “We will be marching to premier Helen Zille’s office to hand her a memorandum telling her we want land, whether we have a permit or not” he said.  The court developments put a stop to the march, which was expected to cause havoc in the city. Before cancelling the march, Majava said that he would like to ask all businesses in the city to close their doors to ensure there was no looting, as had happened during the previous march by the organisation in October.” – Mail & Guardian

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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