Tue | May 30, 2023

Relocate Haiti's capital

Published:Friday | January 29, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

In commending the philan-thropic spirit of the global community to the devastating effects of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, I realise that two significant milestones were achieved by January 25, 13 days after the disaster.

On January 25, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that donors had contributed more than $470 million to 39 US-based non-profit organisations to assist in relief efforts. Simultaneously, on this date, the coordinating committee created to organise the international conference to develop the Strategic Plan for Haiti's reconstruction convened in Montreal, Canada, for their first meeting.

Coordinating Committee

The coordinating committee consists of delegates from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of American States, the Rio Group, the United States, Canada, Brazil and the Inter-American Development Bank.

According to reports from CARICOM "the Strategic Plan is intended to go beyond emergency assistance and would contribute to strengthening the viability and the political, economic and social stability of Haiti, in the medium and long term."

As I reflect upon the many vivid images of crumbled buildings, and lifeless bodies that were widely publicised on television, in newspapers, and over the internet, I anticipated any news of the reconstruction process.

The more I think about it, the easier it seems that the reconstruction plan for Haiti should not include the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince as its capital. The clean-up and rebuilding costs of this fallen capital, in the same location, may very well be just as much as the investment of building a new capital elsewhere. Psychologically, I believe this would instil a sense/state of rebirth and renewal for Haitians.


My suggestion for the conference would, therefore, be to include a session that convenes a team of experts to explore the possibility of relocating Haiti's capital. This team should be prepared to identify and recommend alternative sites, taking into consideration the location of existing fault lines. Members of this team should include geologists, geological surveyors, architects, wind engineers, earthquake engineers, construction engineers, environmental professionals, soil scientists, economists, and urban planners.

The Americans and Japanese have utilised the principles of wind engineering and earthquake engineering to design and create structures capable of withstanding and surviving the effects of earthquakes. These technologies should be investigated for use in public buildings such as government offices, schools, embassies, museums, churches, etc. in Haiti's new capital.

Jamaica, Nigeria and Kyrgyzstan are examples of countries that have changed capitals.

Many Jamaicans may recall that our nation's capital was relocated from Spanish Town to Kingston, as with the capital of Nigeria that was changed from Lagos to Abuja. Whatever the reasons were, none could have been nobler than the case for Haiti.

Imagine what could be accom-plished if Haiti received 100 per cent, or even 50 per cent of the $470 million donated to nonprofits in the United States towards reconstruction?

I am, etc.,