The May 2004 Mapou - Fonds Verrette floods, which resulted in over 1,000 deaths and 1,800 missing, was the result of 27mm of intensive rainfall. On 21 July 2004 the NOAA NWS Weather Service (http://weather.noaa.gov), reported:
"Evaluation of the satellite imagery and model prognosis shows a trajectory a couple of degrees south of the Hispaniola for the bulk of heavy convection. But positive interaction with the upper level trough north of the island is to likely favour organized convection along the southern coast of the island. The SW corner of the Dominican Republic is at high risk of heavy rainfall, with rainfall maxima of 4-6 inches (100-150mm) to likely fall in a period of 2-4 hours. Total rainfall is likely to exceed 250mm over the mountains. Previous reports show mid level winds of 55kts in association with this system, which could favour This and the tracking of the weather system, which had been initiated by a Haiti National Meteorological Centre Special Advisory, on 20 July 2004, were but two elements which prompted the Haiti UN System and some of its traditional partners - IFRC, MSF and USAID - to meet and coordinate its response initiatives, in the event another natural disaster was to hit the island of Hispaniola.
In the meantime, on 16 July 2004, a customs strike was declared in Haiti. The negative impact of agencies not being able to clear their humanitarian aid consignments was addressed in a collective fashion and solutions quickly proposed, permitting re-establishment of the supply chain.
Following-up on UNJLC Bulletin 01, dated 15 July 2004, this bulletin will further endeavour to map out disaster response mechanisms and capabilities in Haiti, with special emphasis on logistics considerations.
2. Tropical Cyclone Watch
As reported in UNJLC Bulletin 01, the past weeks have seen marked increase in tropical depression development in the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. This trend has continued throughout this reporting period.
In this context, on 20 July 2004 at 1930 hrs, the Haiti National Meteorological Centre (HNMC) issued a Special Warning with Yellow Alert. A powerful tropical wave had been located south of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and was expected to hit the island of Hispaniola within 24-36 hrs.
After reassessment, on 21 July 04, at 0800 hrs, the HNMC raised the alert level to Orange, meaning warning was to be issued to all departments, informing them of the potential for flash flooding, mudslides and strong winds.
Fortunately, on 22 July 04, at 0800 hrs, the HNMC lifted the Special Warning, after the tropical wave had passed Haiti, essentially bringing with it strong winds but shedding little rain, thereby causing nothing more than localised damage.
Customs procedures, in Haiti, require one original set and 12 copies of following documents: Custom Declaration, jointly with certificate of origin, invoice, phyto-sanitarian certificate, Waybill and copy of the "Quitus Fiscal".
For Tax Exemption, a franchise needs to be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Chief of Protocol. Declaration should be prepared in Port au Prince but can be prepared in Cap Haïtien for Cap Haïtien cargo, with a copy of the letter addressed to the MFA.
Estimate duration for cargo custom clearance and cost is approximately of 8 days but clearance should be initiated with copies of the Bill of Lading (B/L) to, at least, request the Franchise to the Head of protocol.
Source: WFP Logistics Capacity Assessment (LCA) - Haiti
A customs strike which started in Port-au-Prince, 16 July 2004, has spread throughout the country and in turn caused agencies varied levels of problems in clearing their respective consignments, some not being able to clear them at all. After consultation amongst UN agencies it was determined that although standard procedures had been slightly modified, it was still possible to free consignments, namely by ensuring a greater presence at the customs sights, to ensure consignments were being processed. Therefore, during the strike, the following procedures should be adhered to, in order to ensure speedy process:
- Receive clearance by Haiti Director General - Customs (standard procedure)
- Receive clearance by Port-au-Prince port or airport Director - Customs (standard procedure), and
- Have the documentation processed by Customs Emergency Cell - located at the port and airport for final clearance (exceptional procedure)
It must be emphasized agencies are highly encouraged to have one of their agency representatives following up clearance of consignments throughout the whole process. The use of Brokers, alone, may prove unsuccessful as they often will not have the clout, during a strike, to have customs agents process the consignments. Agency representatives may at time have to remind the customs emergency cell of their obligations and emphasize the fact most UN/IGO/NGO consignments are humanitarian relief goods. Another successful approach was the establishment by some agencies of a letter to the DG Customs, which permitted release of consignments by anticipation.
In the event aforementioned procedures are ineffective, the office of the Director General - Customs may be contacted at +509 299-1763/60 or +509 222-0661.
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