At least 28 of the 47 shopping centres in Sao Paulo are operating illegally because they do not have the proper permits to function, according to an investigation published on the front page of the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper today.

Some were built where or when they shouldn’t have been by construction companies, others did not get the proper documentation and permissions before opening and others don’t have the required number of parking spaces.

This news comes just days after it was revealed there are 45 obstacles along the flight path to Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport, one of the busiest in Brazil. The obstacles range from buildings that are too high, to trees, to a hospital and – surprise, surprise – two shopping centres.

The point here is this: If we can’t rely on the state or the city to enforce laws designed to protect us – and in the case of the airport save lives – then who can we rely on? Why were these buildings allowed to be built?

And now that we know they are illegal why haven’t they been closed down?

I wrote this story in Time magazine in February about a building in Rio that collapsed, killing several people inside. It was reported that authorities had looked the other way while granting building or work permits on the building and I said this in my story, prompting Mayor Eduardo Paes to publicly criticize me (as I reported in this post).

There’s a clear connection between not following the proper building procedures and tragedies like the one in Rio.

Don’t people who pay bribes and the officials who take them or overlook the law get that?