RIO DE JANEIRO – The railroad workers Union will create a commission to monitor the work of the two governmental agencies now charged with investigating the August 27th accident which sent one of the world famous Santa Teresa trams careening fifty meters down Juaquim Murtinho street where the coach was sheered off the chassis when the tram derailed and hit a retaining wall, killing 5 and wounding 55, reported O Globo on Monday.
At a press conference held on Monday, union officials pointed out some of the problems that they think imperative be investigated. They said the trams, known locally as the bonde, have an average of 2,000 passengers per day and that doubles to 4,000 during the holiday season which is fast approaching. The union will also ask that the braking system be investigated.
Another source of concern for the union, said CFO Pedro Ricardo de Oliveira Neto, is the quality of material used in the maintenance of the trams. He also noted that the departure in recent years of skilled employees has affected the safety of the trams. In 2008, he said, the company that runs the trolley laid off 849 employees. Only this year, there were about 120 layoffs. The average salary of employees is $700 per month. A driver earns $450 maximum.
”The material used in the trams is of low quality. We’re checking, for example, what was the quality of the brake shoe replaced on the tram a few days before the accident. The trolley was always slipping. There is also a question of the quality of the rail. Part of the rail was replaced recently and it was very worn. Overall, the trams have been poorly maintained and when they do not have the appropriate part to maintain appropriate it, they don’t. And they have problems. The last major restoration of the trams was in the 80s.” Pedro Ricardo said.
According to the union, minor accidents have been frequent, but not serious enough to be reported. Also, according to him, these accidents occur due to increased demand and reduced number of trams.
On September 15th the Committee on Transport of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (ALERJ) will hold a public hearing to discuss the state of the Santa Teresa tram.
Four people who were injured during the accident of the Santa Teresa tram on Saturday, remain hospitalized in stable condition at the Souza Aguiar Hospital, in downtown Rio. A child was in serious but stable condition after being operated on. Three other passengers were admitted to the Hospital Copa D’Or, in the southern zone of the city. Orlando Moreira Neves, 43, is stable with a broken nose. His wife, Daniele Golden Nunes, 40, is in ICU and will undergo surgery to correct a fracture. The other patient was operated on at Souza Aguiar was Fanny Bertrand for a broken tibia.
Brazil is set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro the Olympics in 2016.