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Maintaining the Second Biggest City in Haiti

Maintaining the Second Biggest City in Haiti

Cap-Haïtian, the second largest city in Haiti, is a place with many great historical sites to visit, even though most of them are located outside the main city. Therefore, it requires a lot of willingness and great spirit of adventure to attend these monuments, which in most cases are high on top of mountains, as is the Citadel, to name one. Even though Cap Haitian receives many local and foreign tourists, travelling by car can be a very big challenge: the hills, the cleft and the rocky mountain road can really spoil the beginning of the adventure. Nevertheless, the cities’ beauty and reputation out performed all of these little factors that might be an inconvenient to less adventurous visitors.

The success of the city comes from its location, which is not too far from the Dominican Republic and facing the Atlantic Ocean. That makes Cap-Haïåtian good for trading and supports the reason why at the time many great historical events took place in the area. In our current time, the place has become a magnet for tourists and investors who are making their dreams come true. These businessmen have exploited its coast side, its mountains, and some have gone as far as to incorporate the Cap Haitian culture within their businesses. With these values they have created what we know as Labadee, Le Satama Hotel, restaurant such as Lakay, Buccaneers, and the markets on the Boulevard.

In the past these mountains and seas were useful for the protection of the free slaves from another colonial invasion. The Citadel la Ferriere was built to overlook the sea and allow the Haitian army to see when the French were coming, and it also enabled them to use cannons to attack the ships before they could actually get a chance to reach land. Cap Haitian also played a crucial role in the slavery revolution. Away from the city, and deep in the woods is located Bois Caiman, a site where the famous voodoo sacrifice was made and most runaway slaves would find refuge. With many other historical sites and potential resources Cap Haitian remains one of the most visited places by local tourists and foreigners.

Cap-Haïtian generates revenue from many sources. Its reputation creates opportunities for many citizens who rely greatly on themselves to support the needs of their families. The fact that it is known for its cassava, its great supplies of bananas, coffee and many more agricultural products, allows the farmers to manage their businesses and to become self-sustainable. The city also has a harbor that allows it to participate in the exportation and importation transactions that take place in Haiti, and its location also creates an opportunity for easy trading with the Dominican Republic. As mentioned before, the touristic sites, hotels, other businesses that were established and the massive tourist base that visits supply the population with many job openings and other opportunities. For example, Labadee and “Ile a rats” create a transportation opportunity for local citizens who own a boat and use it as sea taxies. Tourists would take these boats, that can hold an amount of 15 to 20 passengers, that takes them from Labadee to Ile a rat, which is an estimated 1-hour trip. The boat waits for the group to return to Labadee before night and before the winds get stronger. This round-trip cost up to $15 U.S. per person, for most of those sailors this is a very lucrative business, mainly when it’s high tourist’s season.

At night the city offers all the reasons and activities to keep anyone awake: it’s almost as if it ran on a 24 hours schedule. In most places “taxi motos” do not work past 10 o’clock at night; however on the Boulevard at Cap Haitian whether it’s 2a.m. or 4a.m. there will be several “Taxi moto” to take you home. From this a person can infer that Cap Haitian does not have a severe security problem as other cities in Haiti. However, some neighborhoods such as “barye boutey” and other parts of the city where light and electricity are a major issue, are not recommended to visit after dark.

Many people are aware of the warning that the city is at a risk of tsunami, in case of an earthquake. However, based on the land structure and other irrigation problems some areas are already dealing with lots of water on the roads. As a result, many residential areas do not have a paved road. There’s also a challenge with trash: it is hard to determine whether most of them are brought to the city by the sea, which is parallel to the boulevard or is it simply the people’s litters. While they are fighting with these factors that are degrading the value of such a great place, they are also dealing with political issues and infrastructures that are clearly needed in certain parts of the city.

Gerardson Septinus stated that Cap-Haïtian is in need of a better governance. He continues by saying that “we have kept most of our culture such as the slang that the “capois” and “capoise” speaks, our beaches are continuously loved by foreigners and our local cuisine has not changed”. However, we have a lack of improvements in terms of infrastructures, supporting the agricultural industry and creating more incentive for investors, stated Gerardson Septinus. There’s also a shortage of electricity in most residential areas, which forces most of these households to use substitutes like rechargeable lamps, inverters or generators to lighten up their houses. He continues by explaining that the lack of governance is in every level of the government responsible for the maintenance and improvement of Cap-Haïtian. Therefore, it is not a surprise that Cap Haitian has a lot of room for improvements.

Even though it could be very difficult to solve all those needed improvements, due to the costs that will incur, the changes that the environment needs don’t necessarily have to start with the government: the residents of the city can also take the stand to keep their surroundings clean just as the local inhabitants have managed to preserve the ancient houses and have tried to honor every historical site. Most of these implementations will probably require financing by either the government, which has the opportunity to collect taxes on so many ongoing activities and the obligation to use this money for the area; the private sector which benefits greatly from the attractions provided by the city; or an institution which specifies in maintaining historical sites. Those will definitely create more incentive for growth and better infrastructures by modernizing parts of the city that need a facelift, increase the exploitation of the touristic industry and encourage the farmers to produce more. Cap Haitian has the potentiality to become a supplier to our nation and other nations internationally. It is simply a matter of governance.

Ancemerfed Petit-Bois

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