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#1613: The Fire Truck : Delatour comments

From: Mario L. Delatour <mardel@gol.com>

>From Mario L. Delatour  mardel@gol.com
 Hudicourt,Paryski and Durran are all on the mark, in feeling skeptical
about the life expectancy of the fire truck donated to Jeremie by the
Montreal's mayor. It wont be long before that piece of equipment sits and
rots in a corner of dusty Jeremie for lack of maintenance. These goodwill
gestures should be accompanied by a budget and trained technicians to
assure proper maintenance.Otherwise it is "Lave min suye ate"(Wash your
hands & dry them in the dirt).

In 1981 I went back to Haiti after a 15 year absence to work for SEPRRN
(Service d'entretien permanent du reseau routier national).This road
maintenace project was funded entirely or for the most part by USAID. My
job, fresh from Film school, was to produce a series of training films on
proper maintenance for the equipment operators.In those days SEPRRN had a
fleet of 400 pieces of heavy duty equipment,graders,loaders,back
hoes,bulldozers,compactors,dumping trucks,asphalt machines,you name it they
had it.SEPRRN's mission was two fold: maintenance of Haiti's national
Highways & maintenance of secondary roads. SEPRRN was present all over the
national territory, with branches in every district,Saint Marc,Gonaives,Cap
Haitien,Jeremie, les Cayes........
Millions of dollars were spent to outfit every district with the necessary
equipment to do the business of road maintenance.I produced 7 minute shorts
on every conceivable piece of heavy duty equipment SEPRRN had in its fleet.
I watched in horror over the 2 year period I worked for SEPRRN at the
dismemberment,the sabotage,the cannibalism and outright vandalism of the
equipment.As Mr.Hudicourt pointed out in his post,a grader might come in
for a simple oil filter change and sit there for a whole year.The simple
oil filter problem compiles and becomes a multitude of other problems.The
equipment sits,rots and we are told it is useless,lets use it for spare
parts.A grader in those days cost $120,000. Multiply that figure by lets
say 50,you start getting an idea of how much money was spent on SEPRRN.
Back in those days Haitians joked that SEPRRN meant "SE PRAN" (Take it
all). Today, SEPRRN is no more.Today, there is no maintenance on Haiti's
two national highways.I invite you to drive on the "Bretelle" Saint Marc
-Gonaives on National # 1. It is apocalyptic folks,the shoulder of the road
is better than the road itself. The concept of "Maintenance" is I am sorry
to say non existent in Haiti. As
for the Fire truck sent to Jeremie....well...the "Marchandes" will be happy
to aquire whats left of it and turn it into "Chaudieres" (Cooking Pots).
"Atila, la ou il passe, l'herbe ne pousse plus" (Where Atila walks,the
grass grows no more).
Where have we inherited this sense of destruction "Krase Brise" is beyond
me.It is truly a sad state of affairs folks.
If I may borrow Richard Morse's phrase,

"speechless ....in Tokyo"

Mario L. Delatour