News / Americas

Haitian Company Struggles to Rebuild its Business After Earthquake

A damaged building in Port-au-Prince
A damaged building in Port-au-Prince
Mike O'Sullivan

Businesses in Haiti are struggling to recover from the devastating earthquake January 12.  Many workers have lost their jobs, and employers are trying to get their businesses up and running.  Mike O'Sullivan visited one large Haitian company, Acra Industries.  He reports that hundreds of workers at the company face weeks or months of lay-offs.

Like most Port-au-Prince businesses, Acra Industries was hit hard by the earthquake.  The industrial group manufactures metal sheeting for construction, paper and plastic bags, and plastic plumbing pipes.  It also imports sugar and rice, among other activities.

Some of its buildings were destroyed and others suffered structural damage in the earthquake.  

Marc-Antoine Acra is a member of the family that operates the company and its four factories.  He says rebuilding plans are taking shape, but employees are afraid to enter concrete buildings, like those that collapsed in the earthquake.

 "So what we are looking at right now is to rebuild with prefab, have metallic structures and have roofing sheets," said Marc-Antoine Acra.

Six workers died outside the plant, and some lost family members, but no one was killed inside the factory compound.

Many workers who lost their houses are living on company property with their families.  Some neighboring families are also staying here.

They are receiving medical care and food from international aid groups.

The company is again importing sugar and rice, but Acra says the local port is only partly functioning and that cash flow for the business has slowed to a trickle.

"You have a lot of customers that lost their business, their stocks, their homes, their wife or kid, that also died," he said. "Now, how are you going to recoup that money that is in their hands today.  I do not think there is a possibility to get more than 30 percent of that money."

Acra escorts visitors through an abandoned factory makes corrugated metal sheets.  The assembly line is silent.  The building is structurally unsafe, and the business owner is careful to walk under supporting beams, in case of a collapse.

He hopes to get some parts of Acra Industries running in two weeks.   He says others will take several months to restart.  He hopes international aid organizations will work with local businesses in the rebuilding effort, and support local companies like his.

"A lot of us that are trying to get back on our feet, have some stock, depending on the sector, have food, have construction materials," said Marc-Antoine Acra.

The U.N. Development Program and many international aid groups say they buy locally whenever possible.

Marc-Antoine Acra says his company's workers were paid for January, but at least 250 are being laid off in February, and they must wait for weeks or months to get their jobs back.    

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

Program gives street kids not only food and safety, but a chance for a better life without crossing US border
More

US Senate Kills Immigration Bill, House to Vote Friday

Earlier Thursday, Republican-led chamber abandoned plans to vote on $659 million bill that addresses influx of more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children
More

Argentina Defaults Again on Debt

Negotiators failed late Wednesday to reach an agreement with New York investment companies to avert the default
More

Cameroon’s Coffee Farmers Blame Government for Production Drops

Cameroon's growers, dealers and experts mourn declines in a nation that once ranked 12th in the world.
More

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More