A man pushes a wheel barrow past earthquake damaged buildings in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 21. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini/AP
Six Months After the Quake
The Political Roadblocks to Haiti’s Reconstruction
By Yves Engler, Counterpunch, July 16-18, 2010
Six months ago a devastating earthquake killed more than 230,000 Haitians. About 100,000 homes were completely destroyed, alongside a thousand schools and many other buildings. The scenes of devastation filled TV screens around the world.
Half a year later the picture is eerily familiar. Destroyed during the earthquake the presidential palace remains rubble and a symbol of the vast destruction. Port-au-Prince is still covered in debris. About 1.3 million people live in 1,200 makeshift tent camps in and around the capital.
According to one estimate, less than 5% of the earthquake debris has been removed. Of course, with 20 million cubic meters of rubble in Port-Au-Prince alone, removing the debris is a massive challenge. If a thousand trucks were working daily it would take three to five years to remove all this material.
Yet, there are fewer than 300 trucks hauling debris.
The technical obstacles to reconstruction are immense. But the political roadblocks are larger.