Vision for the reconstruction of Port au Prince in Haiti
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My vision for the reconstruction of
Port au Prince in Haiti
By Henri Fleur
In the aftermath of the earthquake, I had made this paper about my reflections for the reconstruction of Haiti, and when I learned that two former Presidents of a great friendly country were in charge of this task, But I give it to your wisdom.
Like all those who know Haiti and have friends on the spot, I remain astonished by the scale of this catastrophe, and my compassion goes to all the Haitians who suffer. This should not prevent us from reflecting on what has happened.
Many people will look at reconstruction in Haiti after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, having caused so many victims.
I have been in Haiti for thirty years, and I have headed a large research office in Port au Prince. I can bring reconstruction to the vision of an engineer who knows the context.
It would be necessary to be able to rely on a statement of the damages which has not been published. The only indication would be that according to the UN 20% of homes would be destroyed or severely damaged.
If I were to contribute, that is what I will do.
The defects of Port au Prince before the earthquake
The city of Port au Prince is overcrowded. She’s congested! Estimates in the earthquake ranged from two to three million. Nobody knows, because there are no statistics. Personally, I think the population is closer to two than three million. The country has nine million inhabitants, which means that the capital comprises about a quarter of the population.
Port au Prince is sorely lacking in jobs. Apart from administrations, international organizations and NGOs, there are few industrial activities. Business tourism, the presence of UN soldiers gave a bit of activity through hotels and restaurants. Markets, supermarkets and car dealers represent a significant activity but insufficient to support the population. There was a craft city that offered a few thousand jobs, but today it is deserted because President Aristide decided Its installation to give social benefits to employees, especially to extend the maternity leave. The owners of these workshops transferred their activity to the Dominican Republic because these advantages were less expensive for them in the neighboring republic. There was probably a lack of consultation …
Electricity production mainly based on the hydroelectric dam Peligre is insufficient, which leads the authorities to ration the current during the day to be able to provide it in the evening. In the daytime the traffic lights do not work, which adds to the traffic difficulties. Car traffic was very difficult especially at peak hours, corresponding to school hours.
Some of the constructions were anarchic, consisting of spontaneous habitat, going to the assault of the hills, as well as ravines that crisscross the city, descending practically to the level of the river bed practically dry, except during heavy rains . It happens even that one builds on the pavement, It is the case of the borlettes (lotteries), but also of shelter of fortune. When someone built it hard. It is very rare that it is forced to demolish. This is why when some patrons of boards mounted in planks on the sidewalk, decide one day to build more solid, they prepare their stroke and at nightfall, with his friends, they climb walls in cinder blocks and the next day Morning authorities are faced with the fait accompli. Result: often pedestrians are driven down the road to continue their journey, at the risk of being overturned by cars.
The seismic nature of the Port au Prince Region
I just read a 1999 study on ‘Environmental issues in the metropolitan area of Port au Prince, “made on the occasion of the 250 th anniverssaire of the founding of the city. Here are some excerpts on seismicity.
On the seismic plane, after recalling the fracture system of the zone, and the earthquakes of 21 November 1751, 3 June 1770 and 12 November 1909, the authors report that in 1977, Heezen and Tharp on their seismic map of the World present The PAP metropolitan area as an unstable zone with mean earthquakes of 4.5 to 5.5 on the Richter scale. (We know that the earthquake of 12 January 2010 reached 7.2).
Consequently, the fault zones which were in the past the seat of the destruction of Port au Prince and the Plain of the Cul de Sac can again be the place of destructive phenomena even after a very long period of inactivity .
In 1984, the Government rejected a proposal by the University of Colombia to set up seismic monitoring for the whole of Haiti. This project was to prepare disaster relief plans. A possible tectonic shock will be catastrophic since there is no zoning plan, no code governing the types of construction, and construction is not prohibited in areas with medium or high seismic potential.
The commune of Delmas (absorbed by PAP towards this time) is the proof of such a deficiency. Most constructions are made of reinforced concrete without taking into account the capacities of the soil. Many of them are cracked due to differential settlement. Delmas is made of clay, sand, sandstone and conglomerates, making it unsuitable for such constructions.
(This was written in 1999)
Solutions for reconstruction
Decongesting the city, developing new cities on the one hand and encouraging a part of the population to return to its city of origin. A control system should be introduced to avoid a rapid return of former inhabitants to the capital. This existed in Burundi in the 1990s, which meant that the capital of a country with a population comparable to that of Haiti had only 250,000 inhabitants.
A satellite photo published in the press showed that the West-East fault was at the level of the lower town. It is necessary to locate exactly the place of the fault and to proscribe all constructions to its site, realizing a green casting.
In my opinion, a Ministry of Reconstruction should be set up to coordinate all aid. Exceptionally Haiti will have to accept the presence of an expatriate Vice-Minister. It is not a question of controlling the incumbent minister, but of shielding him from all the friendly pressures of his friends, but also from other ministries, which are often well known to be impracticable. This is a key issue . It would limit “evaporation” and would accelerate reconstruction. This Deputy Minister would act as an interface with the donors, giving them confidence.
The Ministry of Reconstruction will have a number of specialized Divisions, each with a Director and an expatriate counterpart. Any expenditure to receive the double signature. These six divisions could be:
– Urban Planning, Habitat
– Infrastructure: Road Network, Ports
– Ean & Sanitation
The areas of competence between the Government and the Ministries operating across the country and the Ministry of Reconstruction, which has jurisdiction over the area affected alone, should be developed, but it is evident that there will be Overlaps. Who will deal with the regulation, which will deal with the supply of electricity. It is obvious that the financing of a new Power Plant will have to be done on international aid, in this case the Ministry of Reconstruction could subcontract to the Ministry of Energy.
It will be necessary to have a short-term vision, and simultaneously a medium-term vision (ten to twenty years). Many actions will have to be simultaneous, which will not make the task easy for those responsible, and will require a Coordination entrusted to the General Direction of the Ministry of Reconstruction …
In the short term, a habitat must be recreated quickly for the homeless, as part of a long-term management plan.
We should work in three directions:
First, I will determine the location of 4 at 5 new cities around Port au Prince, the nucleus of a small existing town. Each of these cities could be dedicated to a friendly country that would take charge, infrastructure, constructions, and industrialization, which would create an emulation, between new towns. Selected countries (or groups of countries) with seismicity experience would be chosen. They could start constructions very quickly, without waiting for the implementation of hahitian norms. Haiti would provisionally validate the seismic standards of the country in question, pending the establishment of national standards. As a priority, it would be necessary to build small 4-storey buildings (without lifts) in order to accommodate a maximum of people quickly. Existing projects could be used, subject to adaptation to the Haitian climate: orientation and sun breezes. In time, these cities should reach 100 to 150 000 inhabitants, even 200 000. They would be destined to decongest the existing agglomeration.
In order to fix the population, the population must find wage employment on the spot, this will be the task of the Industrialization Division. Each city can have a dominant. One of these new towns would be dedicated to the Administration and would bring together the Ministries and the Government. Another could be dedicated to computing, a third to crafts, a fourth to the tertiary, etc … This note is too succinct to go into detail.
But in the immediate future, with the objective of rehousing the maximum population, it would be necessary, as in 1945 in Europe at the end of the war, to quickly erect prefabricated buildings. In Europe, there were still 25 to 30 years later. Today there are ensembles that are built on the basis of containers, for example a city for students in Holland. The construction is very fast, because the elements come from the outside, and on the spot it is necessary to realize only the foundation and the connection to the networks.
Second, it is necessary to solve the connections between the new towns and the Port Centre at Prince, with road transport, giving preference to the tram. An improvement of the urban road will be necessary.
Finally, thirdly , the decongestion of Port au Prince should allow the city to reclaim the sea. While in all coastal cities Caribbean beachfront home to wide boulevards and prestigious buildings in Port au Prince This area is occupied by a precarious habitat, in particular the Cité Soleil where the “chimères” are responsible for the kidnapping and insecurity. The rehousing of the “chimères” sprinkled in new towns will help to reduce their negative impact on the population.
Here are briefly plotted some ideas. This paper was written one month after the earthquake, but was not broadcast at the time.