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The Cities This Week: Edition 58




Students storm the ///, Photo: AFP

Students protest outside the Taiwanese government headquarters, Photo: AFP

TAIPEI 

“Hundreds of students have stormed the Taiwanese government’s headquarters in protest at a deal that will bring closer trade ties with China. They used a vehicle to knock down barbed wire gates outside the Executive Yuan in central Taipei. Another group of students has occupied the parliament chamber since Tuesday. The protesters fear that the agreement would make Taiwan susceptible to pressure from China, which believes that Taiwan belongs to the mainland. The BBC’s Cindy Sui in Taipei says some students staged a sit-in once inside the gates but others tried to push their way into the actual building. The mayor of Taipei has appealed for calm and instructed police to protect the building.” – BBC News

SANTIAGO

“A mass protest was cut short in Santiago, Chile, after police dispersed activists with tear gas and water cannon. Over 150,000 people had gathered in the city center to urge newly-elected President Michelle Bachelet to push ahead with her reform program. Over 30 different organizations attended the “March of all Marches” in the center of the Chilean capital, calling for the Pinochet-era constitution to be replaced with new legislation that protects the rights of all citizens. Among other things, activists demanded environmental reform, gay marriage, the legalization of abortion, the recognition of the right to self-determination of Chile’s indigenous communities, and the vote for Chileans residing abroad.” – RT

RIO DE JANEIRO

“The government in Brazil says it will send federal troops to Rio de Janeiro to help deal with a spate of violent attacks targeting the city’s police. The decision came after the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Sergio Cabral, asked President Dilma Rousseff for government support ahead of the football World Cup in June. On Thursday, three police bases in the city were attacked by suspected gangs. Four police officers have been killed since February in similar attacks. The attacks on police in Brazil’s second largest city have heightened concerns about law and order ahead of the World Cup, which begins on 12 June. Seven World Cup matches, including the final, will be played in Rio.” – BBC News

CARACAS

Demonstrators have clashed with riot police in Caracas after a march against the arrest of two opposition mayors accused of failing to stop violence in protests that have rocked Venezuela. Some 3,000 people rallied on Thursday against the socialist government of the president, Nicolas Maduro, before a group of protesters threw rocks at police who responded with tear gas and water cannon. The latest demonstration came a day after domestic intelligence agents arrested Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristobal, the western city where the first protests erupted on February 4 before spreading to other cities. Ceballos was accused of encouraging “civilian rebellion” in his city. Separately, the mayor of the northern town of San Diego, Enzo Scarano, was stripped of his post by the Supreme Court and sentenced to 10 months in prison on charges that he failed in his duty to stop public disorder. Maduro warned that their colleague in Chacao, a wealthy suburb of eastern Caracas, could be next if barricades were built in his streets.” – AlJazeera

LAGOS

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has disclosed plans to increase energy output to 15,000 megawatts (MW), from a current 1000MW, by 2020. According to Ben Akabueze, the state’s Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgeting, who addressed reporters during the inauguration of the 7th Lagos Economic Summit, the targeted increase was hinged on investment it expected to attract in the next six years. ‘‘We project that by 2020, the minimum in terms of our power requirement will be 15,000MW, which means over the next six years, we expect about 50 per cent growth in the base demand that we see today,” Mr Akabueze added. Over the years, the West African giant has continually battled with the challenge of providing sustainable power for over 160 million people. Nigeria needs 20,000MW to meet current power consumption needs, according to Prof Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power. The country however possesses an installed capacity of 4,000MW, half of which is the current output.” – Ventures

JOHANNESBURG

“A R60 million fund has been set aside to repair damaged roads after floods in Johannesburg, the city’s road agency (JRA) said on Wednesday. At least R23m of the money would be used to repair potholes and storm water drains, said JRA’s managing director Skhumbuzo Macozoma. The remaining R37m would go to repairing bridges and culverts. “This is due the higher-than-average rainfall patterns across the city damaging road surfaces, bridges, culverts and gabions,” Macozoma said. “The heavy rains pushed forward the City’s agendas. Nine bridges have been prioritised for reconstruction and upgrades to ensure safe passage for vehicles and pedestrians.”” – The Sowetan

CAPE TOWN

“Astounded, astonished and delighted were just some of the reactions from opponents of plans for development at Princess Vlei, who on Saturday welcomed news of the city’s sudden about-turn. Weekend Argus announced exclusively on Saturday that the City of Cape Town had halted plans to sell part of Princess Vlei to mall developers, putting an end to a contentious stand-off that has dragged on for more than 15 years. The development was to have included a shopping mall, car park and taxi rank, but the plan was strongly opposed by environmental lobby groups and local residents who use the green area for ceremonies and recreation. At the site on Saturday, deputy mayor Ian Neilson helped turn what was to have been a protest into a celebration when he attended to explain the city’s decision.” – IOL

KATHMANDU

“Nepal generally evokes images of a pristine mountain nation on top of the world. The thick cloud of pollution that threatens to suffocate Nepal’s largest city, however, provides a stark contrast to this reputation. While there are several environmental crises converging here – severe water shortages, for instance, have become status quo – none is as dire as air quality. In the past 10 years, the number of vehicles on Kathmandu’s streets has risen threefold. The problem has become so acute that many of its 1.74 million residents are left wondering: at what point will their city become unliveable? Nepal’s air quality ranks 177th out of 178 countries, according to Yale’s2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), better only than Bangladesh.” – The Guardian

LONDON

“The global financial system is undergoing subtle but significant changes, according to the latest edition of the Global Financial Centres Index, a measure of the overall competitiveness of the world’s leading cities for finance. The list, assembled biannually, is produced by Z/Yen Group. And for the first time in its seven-year history, New York City has overtaken London as the world’s leading financial center (though only by two points, which the authors do note is “statistically insignificant”).  The report attributes London’s fall to a combination of “uncertainty over European Union membership, uncertainty over Scottish independence, regulatory creep and conservatism,” as well as “uncertainty over taxation,” and an “increasingly restrictive and unwelcome environment for foreign workers and visitors.” London’s decline likely also reflects more general economic problems across Europe and the E.U., as parts of Europe have been slower to recover from the crisis than the U.S.” – Atlantic Cities

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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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