To survive, some professionals are abandoning the sector to engage in other activities that are sometimes less profitable. Others are simply going abroad
When he left Port-au-Prince to return to Cap-Haïtien in May 2021, engineer Fritzson Pierre Louis wanted to part ways with a long season of scarcity, during which several of his construction projects in Delmas or other parts of the capital were brought to a standstill.
However, these problems continued in the north. In March 2023, armed bandits threatened Pierre Louis while he was working on a construction site in Petit-Anse for the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) in Cap-Haïtien.
The country’s entire construction sector is now on its knees.
At the close of last year’s fiscal year, the sector recorded a negative growth of -6.0%, marking a deterioration from a negative growth of -4.5% seen in 2021, according to a report published by the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information (IHSI) in December 2022.
The entire country’s construction sector is now on its knees.
This ongoing decline is linked to a reduction in essential construction material imports such as cement and iron, as well as insecurity.
The situation creates a shortfall for the municipalities responsible for supervising construction sites.
Civil engineer Lafont Bien-Aimé, currently the director of the municipal engineering service at the city hall of Delmas, reports to AyiboPost a “significant decrease” in construction in his town over the last two years.
According to the professional who has served the municipality for fourteen years, “this situation has significant consequences for city hall, because after the tax department, it is the engineering department which generates the most revenue.”
In practice, city hall has been finding itself behind in payments to its employees “for almost four months due to a lack of income,” according to Bien-Aimé.
The situation creates a shortfall for the municipalities responsible for supervising the construction sites.
To survive, some professionals are abandoning the construction sector to engage in other activities that are sometimes less profitable. Others are simply going abroad.
We met Clausel Joseph on a scrap heap in Mahotière, in the Carrefour commune, on a Saturday in September, where he was trying to recover the components of an air-conditioning motor.
After seventeen years of experience as a mason, Clausel Joseph did not hide his disappointment at the deterioration of the sector.
“Between 2020 and 2021, the insecurity caused by the criminal groups who held us to ransom closed several of my construction sites, in areas such as Onaville and other regions of the plain,” laments Joseph.
The man remembers having finished a good part of a job on a construction site in Gonaïves in November 2022. When the time came to pour the concrete, “we found ourselves unable to do it because the sand necessary for the construction was in an area controlled by the bandits in Pont-Sondé.”
According to Cyrillien Ulysse, owner of the project, « the circumstances were so difficult that during the month of January 2023, I had to suspend the site, due to the uncontrollable surge in the costs of construction materials. »
Unable to “live on his craft” these last two years, Joseph made the decision to go and work at “Biznis peze fè”. The small business recovers and resells metal components. “Some days I come home with 200 gourdes, others 400 gourdes,” he confides.
After seventeen years of experience as a mason, Clausel Joseph does not hide his disappointment at the deterioration of the sector.
Rameau Luquereste faces the same challenges. The professional has been working in masonry for 38 years, but in 2022, he has been unable to find absolutely anything in the field.
Compared to inflation, the prices of construction materials are subject to a general increase that affects all economic sectors.
“A bag of cement in 2020 which cost 500 to 600 gourdes has now increased to around 1400 gourdes. A truck of sand which cost 2000 gourdes now goes for around 26,500 gourdes,” reports Luquereste to highlight the difficulties owners have in investing in construction.
Alas, Rameau Luquereste threw in the towel before emigrating to the Bahamas in September 2023.
Image de couverture : An engineer looking tired, sitting on the ground | © ISHN
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