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#1602: The fire truck: Hudicourt comments

From: gilles hudicourt <hudic@videotron.ca>

Around 1980 I happened to be at the Port-au-Prince airport when I saw a
Canadian Forces C-130 Hercules military transport plane arriving.  I watched
as it unloaded what seemed to be a brand-new fire truck.  I inquired to the
welcoming commitee who informed me (I'm going on memory here, so I might be
wrong) that the truck had been obtained from or through the Rotary Club.
The truck was given to the Pétion-Ville fire department which was run by the
miltary.  A garage (which is still there) was built for the fire truck right
next to the Pétion-Ville police station.  Just a few years later, probably 2
to 5 years, that fire truck was retired there, derelict.
As with all things in Haïti, no MAINTENANCE budget had been planned to
operate and maintain the truck.  It was probably retired for a bad tire, oil
filter, a dead battery or even lack of gasoil.

That is just one case among thousands of nearly identical stories in Haïti.

Go ahead and send fire trucks, garbage trucks, tractors, bulldozers,
graders, police cars, airplanes, boats, generators, whatever Haïti needs,
but please choose models that require no spare parts, no maintenance, no
tires, no mechanics and if possible no fuel, or else they will be rendered
useless the very first time any of these things become required because by
definition, a Haïtian budget is 100% allocated to salaries and "special
expenses" paid to those same salaried. There is no money to maintain
equipement, even donated equipment.  If those who donate equipement to
governmental organization want the equipment to work, the government branch
that needs the equipement must not be responsible to maintain or even
operate the equipment.  I know this statement might shock some so I invite
those who are shocked to reply with exemples that prove me wrong.  I would
be glad to read about them.