The mayor of Port-au-Prince refuses to raise bans against these companies, affirming that he does not want to be blamed for the “lack of services that would result from the absence of their interventions”
Cell phone companies, Haiti Electric Utility (EDH) and the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) are tearing up the streets of the country.
These interventions – often carried out irregularly – leave traces dreaded by drivers, cause accidents, and leave lasting impact on the quality of the country’s roads.
In October 2023, Julien Jean, a motorcyclist from Port-au-Prince, urgently transported another injured motorcyclist to hospital, following a fall caused by a hole that was excavated on Avenue Lamartinière, near the town of Le Pompier.
The Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications (MTPTC) was carrying out repairs to an underground canal in the area. In the evening, the motorcycle driver hit the hole excavated by the MTPTC at high speed.
“The vehicle was severely damaged,” but the man did not die, specifies Julien Jean.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds of holes, litter the streets of Port-au-Prince.
According to the mayor of the town, Lucson Janvier, only Natcom regularly submits requests for authorization to intervene on public roads, promising to make repairs.
According to the councilor, institutions such as DINEPA, MTPTC or EDH operate on the roads of the municipality without seeking authorization.
These operations do not generate any objection from city hall. The mayor does not want to brandish bans so as not to be blamed for “the lack of services that the absence of interventions would cause,” he says.
Lasting damage is often recorded.
“The repeated intervention of companies on public roads reduces the durability of the roads,” civil engineer Loubens Anselme explains to AyiboPost.
The municipality of Hinche finds itself a victim of this situation.
The Central Regional Drinking Water and Sanitation Office (OREPA) of DINEPA has been undertaking rehabilitation work on the drinking water supply system in this city since 2021, for what was expected to be a ten-month period.
The project was suspended after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, notes Job Berçon, member of Mouvman Jèn Lidè Angaje (MOJÈNLAN). It is due to be resumed soon, since DINEPA has chosen a local firm to continue the work following a restricted call for bids launched in 2023, according to an official of the institution who requested anonymity. This firm will receive around 297 million gourdes to complete the work.
In January 2024, the majority of the streets of downtown Hinche were ravaged.
This frustrated local citizens. On April 3, 2023, they signed a petition to demand that DINEPA repair the roads. Their request had no effect.
They also demonstrated in the damaged streets at the beginning of December last year after having summoned Nesly Gelin, the head of the Centre department OREPA, through a lawyer in August 2023.
According to Gelin, more than $780,000 US dollars have already been spent on this project, the tender for which was won by the Spanish firm INCATEMA in November 2019.
Starting in July 2021, the company abandoned the project without completing the work, financed to the tune of 340 million gourdes by the Spanish cooperation.
AyiboPost’s attempts to contact the central administration of DINEPA and the MTPTC were unsuccessful.
As a temporary solution, the Hinche town hall has filled in the streets of the town, which raises an opaque cloud of dust when vehicles pass by.
Civil engineer Loubens Anselme criticizes INCATEMA’s intervention. For him, the project had to be implemented step by step in order to avoid the demolition of roads and the paralysis of traffic in the city.
In reality, technical collaboration between town halls and companies operating on public roads are rare, continues the engineer.
The work is therefore not carried out according to urban planning, adds Anselme.
Like in Port-au-Prince, the dilapidated roads in Hinche cause accidents and worsen flooding during the rainy season, underlines Job Berçon, member of a city organization.
English translation by Sarah Jean.
Cover image : Workers at the construction site are drilling a road in Puits-Blain. | Jean Feguens Regala/AyiboPost