RedACTES: Citizen Action Network for Safe and Efficient Transportation
Filed under - Public services
What’s at stake?
In Guatemala City, over 2 million people are forced to take a ride on the most dangerous public space in the city, the public bus. Over the past six years, the bus system has become notorious for high levels of violence (including sexual violence and harassment), extortion and murder, not to mention overcrowding and inadaquate coverage. So it is no surprise that only those who are forced to ride the bus – the poor, women and girls who have no safer means to get to school or work – are the most affected by the problem. To make matters worse, millions of dollars of public funds to address the problem have been lost to corruption and weak public oversight.
What we’re doing about it
The Citizen Action Network for Safe and Effective Transportation (Red Acción Ciudadana para el Transporte Eficiente y Seguro, RedACTES) is a project by Transparency International in partnership with its Guatemalan chapter, Acción Ciudadana, to ensure that public funds for bus services and bus safety are effectively spent – so that bus commutes become safer and more efficient for poor and underserved communities, especially women and girls.
In order to do this, Acción Ciudadana is working together with local stakeholders such as Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, which is also responsible for defending the rights of public transportation users, to achieve two goals:
- increase public oversight of the public services responsible for delivering safe and efficient public transportation in Guatemala City, and
- make sure contracts made to the private sector for bus-related services are fulfilled as agreed, free of corruption.
How does this contribute to Sustainable Development Goals?
This work is a crucial model project for tackling corruption and weak accountability in a critical basic public service, transportation. We believe that such work is an important contribution to the UN Open Working Group for Sustainable Development’s Goal 11 – to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” – which has as its second target, by 2030, to “provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.”
How are we going to make this happen? By doing four main things:
- Passenger Rights Charter and Protocols: Raising passenger awareness about their rights to safe and efficient public transportation, as well as how effectively public monies are being spent to fulfil these rights, is a critical step to engaging people most affected by the problem and to find solutions. Rights awareness is only the first step however. This activity will also involve informing riders of grievance protocols in the event their rights are not being met, as well as an independent hotline to report when those protocols fail.
- Monitor, denounce, respond to breakdowns in service delivery: Capturing and quickly visualising problems experienced by bus riders as a result of unaccountable bus and safety service provision, with particular attention to the experiences of women and girls, is essential for understanding how and where breakdowns in the system are occurring. The RedACTES Social Accountability Platform will generate crowd-sourced online “heat” maps to provide the public with real-time overviews of where breakdowns in service provision (including inadequate police response to crime on the bus system) are being reported. The platform also creates an online social network that allows different stakeholders to discuss and promote efforts to improve the system and serves as an electronic bulletin board for quick access to the Passenger Charter and Protocols.
- Community radio alerts: Not everyone has the time or the resources to go online. In order to maximise outreach and participation in the project, community radio stations will host a daily two-minute digest of the day’s troubling hot spots on the RedACTES heat map, also providing space for call-in and discussion on how city stakeholders can work together to make buses safer and more efficient in Guatemala City.
- Joining forces for evidence-based policy solutions: To solve problems, it is essential to work closely with those directly affected by the concern as well as all the different stakeholders who can be tapped to help find solutions. In this case stakeholders include bus passengers, women’s anti-violence groups, public institutions responsible for providing safe and efficient public transportation, and private sector groups responsible for or impacted by safe and efficient public transportation delivery (such as the bus owners’ association). From nearly the beginning of this project, Transparency International and our local partners will work to bring together these stakeholders to identify evidence-based solutions to mitigate against the corruption and lack of accountability that make the system so unsafe and inefficient, especially for women, girls and the poor. Together, stakeholders will put pressure on public officials to adopt those solutions.
Overall, the project will be managed by the Secretariat of Transparency International, to ensure the highest level of support to this important project and facilitate knowledge-sharing regarding project outcomes across our movement.
The main project implementers for RedACTES are Acción Ciudadana (our chapter in Guatemala) along with the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman, whose mandate includes defending the rights of public transportation users.
The Project Advisory Group includes:
- The Safer Cities Programme, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
- Connective Cities, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- Poder Ciudadano, (our chapter in Argentina)
RedACTES is co-financed by Cities Alliance, the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman, and Transparency International.
Timeline and results
We are just getting started!
- July 2015: Transparency International initiates RedACTES start-up activities, meeting with stakeholders and project partners and developing the RedACTES platform, Passenger Rights Charter and Protocols, and outreach materials
- December 2015: RedACTES goes “live”, with launch of the RedACTES Social Accountability Platform and Passenger Rights Charter
- Ongoing: We will keep you posted regarding advances towards making the Guatemala City public transportation network safe and efficient for all.
In the meantime, you can follow us on @RedACTES or contact:
Zoë Reiter, Regional Programme Manager of the Americas, Transparency International
In Guatemala City
Manfredo Marroquin, President, Acción Ciudadana