It's a cruel irony. Just days before a 7.0-magnitude earthquake laid waste to Haiti's capital city, Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. was starting a massive review of the city's building codes.
Now, however, Haiti needs more than better building codes. While SNC's review has resumed, much of the country's infrastructure-from businesses to schools, government offices, houses, energy, water and transport systems-is in tatters. Few, however, are better placed to help rebuild the country than Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin: With 22,000 employees, the company has managed huge infrastructure projects in countries such as Algeria, Afghanistan, Russia, Senegal and El Salvador, and is one of the top 10 engineering firms in the world; it has also operated in Haiti for 30 years.
After winning a World Bank contract to assess the country's transportation system, SNC-Lavalin has already begun the work to remake the island nation.
It was also recently awarded a contract by the Haitian electrical utility to inspect its buildings and recommend which of those need to be reinforced. According to Yves Cadotte, general manager at SNC's transportation, infrastructure and buildings division, the rebuild is not a one-step-at-a-time process. He says planners will have to simultaneously develop roads, reconstruct power sources and restore water treatment in the coming months and years, all while roughly three million people continue to go about their daily lives.
Although people have gone back to work, "some of our employees are still living in tents," says Cadotte, "not because they don't have homes but because they're worried it could happen again. There are still aftershocks, and the subject dominates all conversation in the country. Could it happen again?"
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