THE RUBBLE in Haiti is 20 times greater than that of the bombed World Trade Centre
by MIKE KINGTHE RUBBLE in Haiti is 20 times greater than that of the bombed World Trade Centre and it’s going to be a while before the impoverished Caribbean nation is rebuilt — this is the assessment US Embassy Charge D’Affaires Brent Hardt.Yesterday at a Press conference at the United States Embassy in Wildey, Hardt acknowledged that the process would take time and much planning still had to be done.It has been six months since Haiti was ripped apart by an earthquake that claimed 200 000 lives and affected three million people.Hardt said the devastation in Haiti exceeded that of World War II. “When you think of all the buildings that were bombed in the second World War and how long it took to rebuild Europe, at least a decade in many cases, well, this is even more devastating than any bombing that occurred then, because literally whole sections of the city were completely flattened.“We are looking at a long-term process of clearing and reconstruction. Yes, we would love to see Haiti up and running tomorrow but it will take long-term persistent efforts to rebuild it,” he said.Hardt made it clear the American resolve was just as strong as before.“That is why we are calling attention that six months down the line, we are trying to focus on what’s being done, but also what needs to be done and to make sure the enthusiasm that we all felt on that initial burst of emotion, that that continues for the long-term.”Hardt said much had been done since the January 12 catastrophe that left 1 million homeless and 300 000 injured.“We are on target. The initial relief has done its job. It has prevented disease; 3.5 million people have been fed. It is the largest food relief operation in history.“People have water. They are getting shelter, so we are on track, but it is going to be a long road.”He added that access to water is greater than it was before and the majority of children will be back in school next fall.Hardt said the international community had pledged 125 000 units of transitional shelter that will hopefully provide housing for 600 000 people.He said there were grappling with issues relating to land claims.“Haiti has a very complex legal structure regarding land and property ownership. Very often you have multiple claims on the same piece of land so the government has tried to identify land where it can build these housing units.“That has been one of the biggest obstacles toward getting the units up and running.”Hardt was pleased with the cash for work programme, where tens of thousands have been employed in clearing the rubble and working on the drainage to mitigate the effects of any potential floods and heavy rains.