PORT-AU-PRINCE, January 5, 2009 - The Transport and Territorial Development Project (PTDT), which is being financed by a World Bank grant to the Government of Haiti, has been working since 2006 to minimize transportation costs for residents in the micro-regions of Dondon-St Raphaël (North) and Thiotte-Anse-à-Pitres (Southeast). One of the PTDT’s recent achievements is the construction of a steel bridge in St Raphaël. The erection of this bridge, which is vital to the communities of Dondon and St-Raphaël, is the product of exemplary coordination between the Haitian Government, MINUSTAH, the French Government, and the World Bank.
Torrential rains, the genesis of the operation
In 2004, torrential rains in northern Haiti destabilized the Pont Limite, a steel bridge linking the communes of Dondon and St-Raphaël, thereby impeding access by the residents of Dondon to the grand marché de St-Raphaël (market) and cutting off traffic along national highway 3. Users were obliged to ford the Bouyaha River and face all the attendant risks.
A donation from the Government of France
The decision was made in November 2007 to replace the Pont Limite. The French Government donated a Bailey emergency steel bridge to the Haitian Government, and the World Bank, through the PTDT, provided the funds necessary to cover transportation of the steel bridge components. These components were stored at the offices of the Departmental Directorate of the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication [Direction Départementale du Ministère des Travaux Publics, Transports et Communication MTPTC/DDN] in the city of Cap Haïtien. The PTDT also assumed responsibility for the financing of works prior to the assembly of the new bridge, which included the demolition of the old damaged bridge.
Erecting the bridge – an example of coordination
A Brazilian military contingent from MINUSTAH worked on the site between February 10 and 12, 2009, and expeditiously and efficiently erected the bridge in two days. This undertaking was supervised by Mr. Gérard Charles, a CNPS site foreman, who traveled from France expressly for that purpose. A team of MTPTC engineers was also on-site during the operation and benefited from on-the-ground training in the erection of steel bridges.
A satisfied population
Reinforcement works on the newly installed bridge have been completed and the bridge has been reopened to the public, much to the delight of the residents in the region who openly share their joy and appreciation. The bridge was inaugurated on August 6th, 2009, by Mr. Jacques Gabriel, Haiti’s Minister of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication. The ceremony was attended by representatives from Coopération française, MINUSTAH, and the World Bank, as well as by the local population. Through this joint effort, economic activity has resumed and thousands of people are no longer isolated.
Observations from users of Pont Limite…
The local population
“We are overjoyed and quite pleased to at last see vehicles traveling on the new bridge.”
“Whenever the river was in spate, we would have to wait for more than a day before we could cross, even though we have gardens on the other side. That’s all behind us now.”
“We would have liked the President and the Prime Minister to come and officially open the new Pont Limite.”
“Our thanks to the French Government for donating the bridge and to the World Bank for financing the works.”
Public transport drivers
“During the rainy season, it was misery and despair. We would sometimes wait for around four days in front of the river in spate. Several vehicles have been damaged in the past (water damage, engine failures, etc.). Since the bridge was erected, we haven’t had any problems getting around; our troubles with the Bouyaha River are over.”