“I hope that we’re going to see Port-au-Prince as a huge construction field,” said Haitian central bank governor Charles Castel after the announcement that England’s Royalty has entered the field of celebrity in Haiti.
Prince Charles sponsors an architectural charity that is now committing to the rebuilding efforts in Haiti. They will apply their efforts on historic portions of Port-au-Prince. The design group will focus on a 25 block area in the downtown of the Capital.
The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, will work with urban planners Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, based in Miami, Washington and Charlotte, N.C.
The Prince joins, Bill Clinton, Haitian politicians and other celebrities who will eventually fight over the limited construction resources of Haiti. Each will have their pet-projects that will be publicized widely and with great fanfare. All will require concrete building materials to lay the foundations of their work. And none will want the bad press that accompanies delays in the building process, once it starts.
Add to this the many international construction firms and aid organizations and we will see a major competition in the Haiti field of construction dreams. Plus this will be a battle field for titans, all who will not want to lose face over something as basic as construction supplies.
The Prince is wise to choose to work on projects in the city. There should be enough cement-based production in Port-au-Prince to support the major projects for his efforts downtown, and for the government buildings. The truck-based concrete suppliers will naturally want to sell close to home and save on the extra costs of transportation.
But the construction playing field for Haiti is much larger than just the historic buildings and the civic structures in Port-au-Prince. The biggest battles will build in the outskirts of town in those fields earmarked to become the communities for the million or so homeless.
With the limited supply resources in Haiti, does anyone believe that the ready-mix trucks will find the time to service the small home foundations for individuals, when the profits will be in the larger volume projects?
We must act now to develop and to begin implementing a plan to decentralize the concrete supply chain, before the battle field gets bloody. If you have any influence with Mr. Clinton, Prince Charles or the Haitian government, please let them know that if they build a decentralized construction supply system, they will really create a field of dreams for all the Haitian people.