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Post-earthquake rubble removal to take three years: Haitian president

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by Daily Commercial News

It will take three long years to clear the rubble left by Haiti’s devastating earthquake, says President Rene Preval who admitted even he’s still afraid to sleep under concrete in case another quake strikes.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti

It will take three long years to clear the rubble left by Haiti’s devastating earthquake, says President Rene Preval who admitted even he’s still afraid to sleep under concrete in case another quake strikes.

In a rare exclusive sit-down interview, Preval told Associated Press Television News on that Haiti faces a long reconstruction process that will result in fewer people living in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“It will take 1,000 trucks moving rubble for 1,000 days, so that’s three years. And until we move out rubble, we cannot really build,” Preval said.

Sitting in the airport police station that serves as the country’s temporary government headquarters, Preval calmly laid out the difficulties of rebuilding an impoverished country amid aftershocks and the threat of more earthquakes.

He said the government has destroyed some hastily rebuilt structures in the capital, but he said that until alternative housing plans can be completed, the government’s ability to regulate reconstruction will be limited.

Asked about residents’ assertions that local corruption has interfered with the international aid effort, he replied: “It is possible that there have been irregularities.”

“However,” he said, “I should point out that the government isn’t the direct manager of most of this humanitarian assistance.”

International aid groups have taken pains to at least make Haiti’s government the titular head of the relief. But district mayor’s offices in Port-au-Prince have been put in control of some food coupon distribution, and some irregularities have been reported.

The president, whose five-year term is scheduled to end next year, has rarely spoken publicly with his own people in the weeks since a magnitude-7 earthquake pummelled Haiti’s capital city on Jan. 12.

Since then, Preval said he has been staying with friends until a “light, earthquake-proof” structure can be built to replace his home.

“Like you, I am nervous to be under cement,” he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will spend up to $12 million to build Haiti’s government a temporary base to replace official buildings damaged in the quake.

Associated Press

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