The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $50 million soft loan to Haiti to rehabilitate roads and highways and repair Port-au-Prince's international airport and port.
Transportation is a crucial sector for Haiti's economic recovery. Around 80 percent of its road network is in poor condition and its ports and airports are in disrepair, limiting productivity, increasing logistics costs and making life harder for all Haitians.
"The program is designed to be carried out in stages, so that a number of priority projects could begin quickly because they've already completed the engineering studies and environmental analyses," said IDB project team leader Jose Agustin Aguerre. "Besides addressing what's urgent, the program will finance further studies and technical assistance for designing medium- and long-term sector plans."
The IDB is the focal point for the international community's support for the Haitian government's plan for the recovery of the transportation sector. In 2003 it reactivated a $50 million loan for rural roads and in 2004 it approved a $70 million loan for a fund that is financing small and medium-size infrastructure projects.
The new loan will finance the rehabilitation and improvement of around 170 kilometer of highways and bridges on Haiti's primary network and some 300 kilometers of secondary and tertiary roads. Work will be carried out on existing strips, using asphalt concrete on urban accesses and road stretches with higher traffic volumes and bituminous surface treatments on stretches with lighter traffic, maximizing the project's coverage. A signage program for main highways will also be financed.
The main runway, the taxiway and apron of the Toussaint L'Ouverture international airport in Port-au-Prince will be repaired by preparing the base, patching, repaving with asphalt and concrete and upgrading the drainage system and pavement markings.
At the capital city's port, repairs will be made to piers 1 and 2, the main channel will be dredged, road access will be improved and a fence will be built round its perimeter. Investments will be made in buoys and beacons marking the channel to ensure safe passage of ships using the port. Given the complexity of the project and the need to complete detailed environmental impact studies, work on this component is expected to start after the first year of the program.
The program will also finance studies for the preparation of an infrastructure master plan for the Toussaint L'Ouverture airport and proposals to reform the airport management system. In addition, it will support an analysis of the National Port Authority's institutional and regulatory frameworks, an evaluation of infrastructure and equipment and the preparation of a works plan for the capital's port. It will also strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications to control vehicle weights and design road safety policies.
The IDB, the United Nations Development Program and the U.N. Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti recently reached agreements under which military engineers from the peacekeeping forces will carry out construction projects and ensure the security of road crews, equipment and materials. This assistance, which is expected to start in the coming weeks, will help speed up project execution, reduce costs for Haiti, complement the activity of private contractors and support public works outside the capital region.
The loan is for 40 years, with a 10-year grace period. The interest rate will be 1 percent a year during the first decade and 2 percent thereafter.
IDB support for Haiti
The Inter-American Development Bank has the largest portfolio of loans in execution in Haiti, with $380 million to finance economic and social programs. These include basic infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, water and sanitation, primary education, job training, community development and small productive projects across the country. It is also providing fast-disbursing loans to support public finance reforms and to strengthen economic governance.
Other loans totaling $200 million are under preparation to finance programs for rural development, urban center upgrading, environmental management, flood prevention and access to credit for small and medium-size enterprises.
The IDB coordinates its activities closely with donor countries' agencies and other multilateral institutions that support the Interim Cooperation Framework, a strategy proposed by the Haitian government to address the country's priorities, foster economic recovery and smooth the transition to a new, democratically elected administration.