PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — President Jovenel Moise launched Wednesday a project to rebuild Haiti’s National Palace, a symbol of national pride destroyed by the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people.
“My administration wants to offer the young generation the opportunity to make its mark on the country’s history and to inscribe in stone its vision of a new Haiti,” Moise declared from the temporary presidential residence, located on the grounds of the palace.
The new president, two months in office, pointed to the iconic building’s beloved place in the heart of Haitians.
“For many, the post-earthquake reconstruction has not begun as long as the National Palace has not been rebuilt,” he said.
Moise called for the rebuilding of the palace on the same site as the National Palace, in the heart of the capital, making it a “monument that symbolizes the dignity and the pride of the Haitian people.”
Moise’s administration has decided that the facade of the new building will look the same, but the interior will be adapted to the needs of a modern presidency.
The entire building will be constructed to withstand a natural disaster.
The National Palace, like the majority of public buildings, was severely damaged by the magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked the capital Port-au-Prince and its surroundings on January 12, 2010.
Pictures of the huge, toppled building, with its white domes collapsed onto the neoclassical columns, were seen around the world, symbolizing the scale of the disaster suffered by the poorest country in the Americas.
In 2012, the decision to demolish the National Palace was controversial and a further hit to national pride because it was done, for free, by Hollywood actor Sean Penn’s nonprofit organization.
As part of Moise’s rebuilding launch, a committee of engineers and architects was set up Wednesday to plan the project, whose cost at this point is not estimated.
The president wants construction to begin before the end of the year.
The government’s requests for proposals to choose the architects and companies involved have not yet been issued.