A Brazilian outraged with potholes gets sued. And the lesson of Wanksy – NSFW

When I was part of the team of FlatOut!, I wrote an article there which was one of the funniest I’ve ever written. It was about the now known as a British “street performer” who adopted the name Wanksy. If you want to read the article, in Portuguese, I strongly recommend you to do so. I do not wish to repeat my themes, but there are times in which this is inevitable. All because the Brazilian businessman Sergio Valdnei Souza decided to paint the potholes in his city, Analândia, in São Paulo. Ina a much more polite way, we have to stress. Sergio just circled the potholes with white ink so that people didn’t find out about them just after bumping into these city marvels. According to the interview he granted, his intention was mainly to protect children with bikes. What is surprising is the reaction of the city to his initiative.

We agree that having an ordinary citizen doing this sort of thing exposes adequately the incompetence of the Municipal Public Power to address one of their most prosaic problems. It is not just a question of keeping streets to cars when there are other much more important priorities, such as health and education. Advocates of alternative transport will have to remember that bicycles also run through the streets and that, when they fall in potholes, injuries can be severe. Streets and roads in bad shape are one of the main factors of traffic accidents. And traffic accidents are one of the biggest causes of death in Brazil and the world. But Analândia’s subsecretary of administration and finance, Pedro Carmona Rafael, and its mayor, José Roberto Perin, ordered Sergio to stop with the markings, called the cops and demanded Sergio was given a notice for damaging public assets.

If you think about that, the bureaucrats were not protecting a flawless street from the actions of a vandal. They called the police to protect the pothole! Or has any mayor called the police to contain the “vandals” who painted streets throughout Brazil in celebration for the 2014 World Cup?

University-Veiga-Almeida-painting-Street-World Cup

Sergio can now be sued. The reaction from the mayor and the subsecretary may be seem excessive, but the fact is that Sergio has been candidate for councilor in 2012 by a different party from the one of the mayor. And this may help explain the attitude. Are there any doubts that he will run again this year, after all the media his story has received? I hope that, if elected, he doesn’t limit himself to proposing street name changes and tributes, as do today most municipalities in the country.

Initiatives such as Sergio’s are not isolated, but they did not have the same negative reaction. At least not yet.  Read the case of salesman Wlaldemir Luiz Ribeiro, from São Carlos, at this link. Anyway, things are still without an effective solution, or at least not at the pace required so that they do not cause the damages we are all already aware of.

What seems to be required from Brazilian drivers and citizens is that they can see everything that’s wrong, complain about them with neighbors and friends and placidly watch everything exactly the same way it was before. We celebrate the fact that there are Sergios and Wlaldemirs among us to do things differently. But we would celebrate even more if we had a Wanksy here. Someone who not only protests, but that also creates a situation that makes authorities so uncomfortable, but so uncomfortable that the only choice they would have would be to do what they are expected to do. See below the kind of art that Wanksy makes on the streets of his city, Manchester, in the United Kingdom. For the record, this is the NSFW part of the article…

WanksyBuraco

Wanksy-7 Wanksy-5 Wanksy-4 Wanksy-2

Wanksy is a play of words using Banksy, a tremendous artist whose work you can see in the picture below and on his website, and wanker.

Bansky-1

The goal of Wanksy, after getting tired of seeing the streets of his city full of potholes, was to ensure that every hole would be filled. It worked, as the city did all it could to cover the “obscenities”. The concern, you see, was to avoid that families were confronted with dicks and human anatomical holes. Like the one shown down here.

Wanksy-1a

The city filled it quickly. Naughty city…

Wanksy-1b

And Wanksy collects other success stories, such as those shown below. All of them represent the end of the indecent potholes that embarrass any city.

Wanksy-3 Wanksy-6

Seeing the effectiveness of the British campaign, it is worth to ask ourselves: isn’t it the right path to get things fixed, pointing unambiguously what is wrong? In a way that shocks and makes the government take effective actions? In a way that embarrasses and shames the ones that are responsible? That makes it evident how absurd it is to have roads and streets so poorly preserved and still keep blaming only drivers for traffic deaths?

In the post I wrote for FlatOut!, I asked, at the end: and if this sort of action catches on? Apparently, it is going to do so, as the campaign below clearly shows. It says, in Portuguese: “Campaign: paint the potholes in your street”. Beside each pothole, there is the name of one tax all drivers pay in order to be able to own a vehicle, called IPVA. Funny is that I have coincidentally caught this image today on Facebook, just before concluding this text. Master Oogway says there are no accidents, right? I believe him.

Paint-the-holes-for-your-street

It would be just perfect if cities and States took this chance to finally learn how to use asphalt in the correct way. Covering streets in a manner that they could be easy to properly repair. Therefore, we would avoid all damages we already know that happen when someone has to face potholes. But this may be a dream. An impossible one. As well as the expectation that more people would take the responsibility for having a better town. Maybe it’s unfair to have such hope in relation to a people who is so tired of things that can’t be fixed. That never will. Things that have no Government. And that will never have. Nor shame. Nor sense.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.