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The Cities This Week: Edition 50




The world's largest solar bridge opened with week in London. Source: Photograph: Ralph Hodgson/Network Rail

The world’s largest solar-powered bridge opened with week in London. Source: Photograph: Ralph Hodgson/Network Rail

KIEV

“To the peal of church bells, and with more than a thousand mourners marching behind it, a coffin carrying the body of Mikhailo Zhyznevsky was borne through the streets of Kiev on Sunday. Zhyznevsky, a Belarusian who lived in Ukraine, was one of at least three victims of clashes between police and protesters last Wednesday. He died of gunshot wounds. The sombre procession came as the three political leaders who have become the de facto leaders of the protests pondered a surprise offer of concessions extended to them on Saturday by the president, Viktor Yanukovych. As the tense standoff between protest barricades and riot police continued in Kiev, and unrest spread to the rest of the country, the president offered a wide range of concessions at negotiations with the leaders. He promised Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, the prime minister’s job, while the former boxer Vitali Klitschko was offered a deputy prime minister post. Yanukovych also suggested making a number of legislative and constitutional amendments during a special emergency parliament session on Tuesday.” – The Guardian

SAO PAULO

“The year’s first major protest against the World Cup drew more than 2,000 demonstrators into the streets of Brazil’s largest city on Saturday, as frustration over the cost of the tournament lingers in the host country. But the demonstration in Sao Paulo fell far short of the more than 20,000 people who confirmed attendance on Facebook, highlighting the diminished energy of recent protests compared to the public unrest during the Confederations Cup tournament held here last June. During that tournament, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup in June, more than a million Brazilians joined in protests against poor public services and political corruption. The cost of new stadiums outraged many demonstrators demanding more investment in public transportation, healthcare and education.” – Reuters

BANGKOK

“A Thai anti-government protest leader has been shot in the head while delivering a speech in Bangkok, as demonstrators blocked advance voting for a controversial general election. Piya Utayo, a spokesman for Thailand’s national police, on Sunday identified the dead man as Suthin Tharathin. “At least five other people were injured,” he said. “Suthin Tharathin was shot in the head while giving a speech from the back of a truck,” protest spokesman Akanat Promphan told AFP. “The government has failed to provide any safety and security for anybody today despite the emergency decree,” he said, referring to a government order empowering police to control protests. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called elections for February 2 in an attempt to defuse protests that have dragged on since November and which have flared occasionally into violence.” – AlJazeera

VIENNA

“Thousands of people have taken part in marches in Vienna against an annual ball that was expected to be attended by foreign far-right leaders. The protesters are opposed to Austria’s opposition Freedom Party (FPOe) holding its so-called Academics Ball in the city’s imperial Hofburg palace. Several people have been arrested after outbreaks of violence, police say. Police say around 6,000 people took to the streets to rally against Friday’s event. Some protestors smashed shop windows and threw bottles, and several people were injured, police say.” – BBC News

SOCHI

“With 12 days to go until the opening ceremony, Russia is rushing to put the finishing touches on what is arguably its biggest project since the Soviet era. A pet venture of Mr Putin, Sochi has been widely criticised for its $50bn tag – as well as allegations of corruption, ecological damage and organisers’ attitude towards migrant workers, many of whom say they did not receive fair compensation. To economists, Sochi has become a metaphor for broader problems in Russia’s economy, with its vast reserve of petrodollars often dedicated to over-budget prestige projects at the expense of less glamorous but more urgent priorities, such as infrastructure.” – Financial Times

LONDON

“After nearly five years in the making, Network Rail has today cut the ribbon on the world’s largest solar-powered bridge at Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames. As part of a project with solar installation firm Solarcentury, the roof of the bridge has been covered with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, providing up to half of the energy for London Blackfriars station. First Capital Connect, which runs Blackfriars, expects the panels to cut the stations’ carbon emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes a year, further reducing the carbon footprint of its train routes to the south east of England. “Electric trains are already the greenest form of public transport – this roof gives our passengers an even more sustainable journey,” said David Statham, managing director of First Capital Connect. “The distinctive roof has also turned our station into an iconic landmark visible for miles along the River Thames.” – The Guardian

CAPE TOWN

“Andile Lili and Loyiso Nkohla have again threatened to bring chaos and “ungovernability” to the city centre, apparently because Premier Helen Zille would not meet with them in person. The duo pioneered Cape Town’s poo protests last year and led a march of informal settlement dwellers on the city centre. The march descended into chaos when a group of marchers broke away from a picket in front of the provincial parliament and looted traders’ stalls in the city centre. After this, a group of religious and community leaders formed the Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) to mediate with the informal settlement leaders. Yesterday, Lili and Nkohla met with a CCG delegation to discuss the agenda for a planned meeting with city and provincial officials to discuss grievances over poor sanitation services in many of the city’s informal settlements.” – IOL

JOHANNESBURG

“A total of 6 000 DA supporters will march to the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg next month to take the “fight for jobs” to the ruling party, DA leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday. “Each DA supporter will represent 1 000 unemployed South Africans who will benefit from the six million real jobs that the DA will create if elected to national government,” she said in a statement. “We are taking the fight to Luthuli House to highlight the failure of (President) Jacob Zuma’s ANC to cut corruption and create jobs.” Zille said the Democratic Alliance would expose the African National Congress’s manifesto pledge of creating six million job opportunities as “bogus”.” – IOL

LAGOS

“The Lagos State House of Assembly in South-West Nigeria on Monday passed a bill to prohibit smoking in designated places and vehicles in the state. The law prohibits residents of the state from smoking in public places such as schools, day-care centres, libraries, museums, hospitals, public transportation, restaurants, public toilets among others. The law, which passed its third reading on Monday, also mandates owners of public places to place signs with the inscription; ‘No Smoking’ or symbols as part of enlightenment for smokers and would-be violators of the law.” – Channels TV

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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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