This, following Mr. Jean’s release of his 7-point suggestion for Haiti.
What Wyclef Jean missed in his list was a concrete solution for the most visible material in and around Port-Au-Prince: Concrete rubble. There are rubble piles filled with millions of cubic meters of poor quality concrete. Piles of the heavy, crumbly stuff that crushed so many to death in January of this year.
What Haitian thought leaders and the influential like Wyclef should be targeting are two issues:
First, getting rid of the rubble so that construction can begin and second, fixing the concrete production system before Haiti repeats the same mistakes again.
What Mr. Seager suggests is to help start businesses that deal with the rubble. That is a good idea… Let’s get started!
What CementTrust suggests is that entrepreneurs or business investors in Haiti need to produce good ready-mix and other cement-based building materials. The opportunity will be huge once the building begins…
Supply is low and the demand for concrete will fuel some great opportunities for those who act.
There are only 2 ready-mix concrete companies currently operating in all of Haiti. For comparison, we have 2 transit-mix companies serving McMinnville Oregon, a city of only 35,000 people. When construction is busy in McMinnville, some contractors have to wait to get concrete. Haiti has almost 10 million people who need to share these 2 suppliers. What happens when reconstruction gets busy?
When all of the NGO’s and the Haitian government finally begin the rebuilding process, they are going to overrun the capacity of these 2 suppliers of concrete. Then what will everyone do? Wait? Bid the price up? Use bribery?
It will not be pretty… And in this ugly environment the quality of the product will go down quickly.
Somebody needs to start putting the concrete production infrastructure together, right now. They need a solution for mining all of the sand and gravel to make the concrete. They need a trucking supply chain to move the materials to the mixers. They need the producers of Portland cement to be gearing up for the onslaught of the future demand.
We hear reports that suggest that other items have a higher priority, but when the building begins and concrete is needed, it will be a rude awakening for many groups.
CementTrust suggests a decentralization plan for concrete. A solution based upon using small suppliers that are spread around the country. Concrete and cement-based building materials are heavy and should be produced as close to the need as possible. Relying on big ready-mix trucks is a pipe dream when the roads are impassable and the terrain does not cooperate. Regardless, those big trucks will be needed to rebuild the big projects like the airport, the ports and the government buildings. This lack of supply will stall home building in just a matter of days.
Hundreds of small ready-mix operators and concrete block producers can be spread around the country to help meet the demand. These Haitian entrepreneurs will hire their neighbors and raise the local standard of living. There is money for start-up costs and to buy their services in the banks of the many groups that have committed to the rebuilding effort. This plan needs to begin now in order to have a chance to succeed.
We understand that concrete ready-mix is not as sexy as solar panels; but if we don’t build better foundations the worthy effort to rebuild Haiti will be wasted. If there is not a good solution to this problem we will return to the crumbling rubble piles at the next disaster.
Dull as this may seem, Haiti needs a concrete solution.