|Passers-by discuss the death of a two-year-old girl, who fell to her death thru the manhole, then uncovered, Saturday afternoon. The man on the left said that whoever stole the sewer lid was guilty of accesory to murder.|
But, shortly before, somebody had stolen the cover from a manhole. Tiny Michel fell inside. And, despite the heroic efforts of a street vendor, police and a soldier who all crawled down into the noxious underground tunnel, where the sewage-saturated San Francisco River flows below the avenue, the girl drowned and her body was recovered several blocks away.
Michel's tragedy is only the latest and most dramatic accident caused by the innumerable holes which make Bogotá's streets and sidewalks into obstacle courses in which a twisted ankle or knee is the lightest penalty for unwary.
|A plastic 'non recyclable' manhole cover.|
Stealing sewer lids is a crime. But those who pry the lids
|A lidless utility box on |
a Bogotá sidewalk.
Catching the scrap dealers wouldn't be difficult, either. Police could just send an apparent drug addict to the dealers carrying a sewer lid to sell. Nobody has a right to be offering a sewer lid. The scrap dealer who buys the lid would get fined and his business shut for a month.
While I discussed the tragedy with some some passers-by, a TransMilenio bus drove past, blasting us with toxic diesel smoke. Two young girls covered their faces and ran off. Michel's tragic death got a lot of attention, as it deserved. But what about the thousands of slow deaths caused every year by Bogotá's uncontrolled air pollution?
|A TransMilenio bus drove up the avenue, spewing toxic smoke over us.|
|The two girls fled the fumes.|
|So did these, covering their mouths.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours