One more broken link in the concrete construction supply chain
Following the quake the government of Haiti issued an edict that banned the use of white limestone sand from the concrete block production system. This white powdery sand is in piles everywhere you turn in Haiti. The government needed something to blame for all the crumbling destruction and the blocks deserve suspicion.
Our experience in Haiti suggests that every part of the concrete block production system needs an intervention.
Haiti is addicted to using bad concrete materials and poverty makes it difficult to break the habit. Our aid money and their government need to combine to find a way to break the sad cycle of building with a crumbling and failed concrete system.
It is not just the sands fault… We have witnessed good quality sand in Haiti. There are good materials available, but there is lousy access for them. Haiti needs an organized concrete supply chain, including product quality oversight.
CementTrust has chosen to target shovels as the poster-child for bad concrete production in Haiti. The Shovel is the tool of choice in the concrete production industry of the poorest nations of the world. In the block production business, the shovels mix the sand and cement on the ground. Then these shovels are used to tamp down the mix into the simple block forms, before they are turned out into the sun to dry. Every step of this process is rife with potential failures.
Inconsistent batching, inadequate blending, lack of material compression and poor curing all combine to make concrete blocks that will become a part of the next earthquake rubble pile. It is not impossible to change this cycle, but someone needs to focus attention on this issue. We continue to raise our hand, and some are beginning to listen.
Here are a couple of video presentations on the block production issues that face Haiti.