Haiti's lax regulation yields unsafe buildings

LABOULE, Haiti -- The rusty trucks groan as they climb the rugged mountain one after another, puffing toward a loading station to be filled with tons of sand scraped off the ridge. In this dirt-poor nation, the construction process often begins at this rock pit midway up a bleached mountain outside Port-au-Prince where sand entrepreneurs load up, then fan out across the capital in search of buyers.

The construction of buildings here is as unregulated as the collection and sale of the mountain sand that ends up in concrete shacks, sprawling homes and dwellings in places such as Petionville, the suburban city where a recent school collapse killed 91 students and teachers and injured another 162 people.

The flimsy permit process for construction exists with little, if any, government oversight, inspections or accountability. The collapse of the church-run College La Promesse Evangelique, and the partial cave-in of another school five days later in a nearby Port-au-Prince neighborhood, revealed Haiti's archaic and deeply flawed building practices.

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