Haiti’s road system being of very bad quality, transport is commonly considered a major impediment to the distribution of commodities, particularly to remote rural areas. However, based on information gathered from informants and observations made during the course of research, there is in fact an extensive and vigorous internal transport system comprising locally constructed boats, modified transport trucks of all dimensions, motorcycles, pack animals and ambulant porters that negotiate the country’s ubiquitous foot paths. The industry not only facilitates distribution of imported commodities to the most remote areas of the country, it is also far and away the most important employment opportunity for males and the families to whose livelihoods they contribute. It would behoove NGOs such that aim to distribute commodities in rural areas to use and hence support the local system.

total: 40 km (single track; privately owned industrial line) - closed in early 1990s
narrow gauge: 40 km 0.760-m gauge

total: 4,160 km
paved: 1,011 km
unpaved:I 3,149 km (1996 est.)

Road NetworkEdit



Haiti is not a large country to travel around, and has a road network of variable (although improving) quality, and a few internal flights from Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince sits squarely in the centre of the national highway system, and the fact that all roads lead to the capital makes it either a convenient base to travel from, or an unavoidable annoyance if you'd prefer to avoid getting sucked into its traffic gridlock. From Port-au-Prince, RN-1 heads north to Gonaïves and then over the mountains to Cap-Haïtien. At Gonaïves, the road splits to lead to Port-de-Paix along RN-5. East of the capital, RN-3 passes through Mirebalais and Hinche, and continues on to Le Cap. In the south, RN-2 passes through Léogâne and Miragoâne on the way to Les Cayes and Port-Salut. Side branches split off toward Jacmel (RN-4) and Jérémie (RN-7). For the most part, these roads are well-paved. Notable exceptions include the terribly pot-holed road from Gonaives to Port-de-Paix, and the unsealed stretches from Hinche to Cap-Haïtien.

Route Name



Areas Served
Port-au-Prince Cap-Haïtien
Port-au-Prince Les Cayes
Port-au-Prince Cap-Haïtien
Linking Croix-des-Bouquets (from Route 102) to:

Mirebalais, Thomonde, Hinche, Pignon, Saint-Raphaël, Dondon

Léogâne Jacmel
Gros-Morne Port-de-Paix
Cap-Haïtien Ouanaminthe
Les Cayes Jérémie
Port-au-Prince Ganthier
Route 9
Route 11
Pont-Sondé Mirebalais
Mirebalais Dominican Republic Border
Hinche Ennery

Hinche Dominican Republic Border
Port-au-Prince Marigot
Carrefour Marin Thiotte
Plaisance Gros-Morne
Limbé Anse-à-Foleur

Road Program

Both DDT and DTP should be reorganized to improve their internal efficiency and to shift their role from carrying out maintenance works directly to managing, planning and regulating the road subsector and managing the execution of maintenance by the private sector and local communities. Both agencies suffer from all of MTPTC problems outlined, such as lack of coordination, too wide responsibilities, poor financial control, weak procurement and cumbersome payment procedures.

The most significant changes recommended by the consultants' institutional review are:

(a) to create a separate Central Roads Directorate, separate from the existing Transport Directorate, to program road investments, manage the contracting of works, allocate the road budget to the various activities and supervise studies and works by the private sector, local communities and force account;

(b) to assign the Transport Directorate to developing and coordinating sector investment plans, formulating sector policies, monitoring the decentralized agencies, such as APN and the National Civil Aviation Office (OFNAC) and setting and overseeing the enforcement of the regulatory framework in the sector;

(c) to reorganize the DTP into a Central Urban Directorate, with specific units within the nine regional departments (see (d) below) and a special Urban Department for Port-au-Prince. The Central Urban Directorate will keep overall responsibility for regulations, planning and budget allocations of all urban related works carried out by the Ministry, in close liaison with the municipalities' needs. Like the Central Road Directorate, the Urban Directorate will also keep control of all the regional programs (planning, budget approval and supervision) and of all major works by contract. Work execution by force account will be decentralized to the regional (and Port-au-Prince) departments. Within this context, the road maintenance and rehabilitation unit in Port-au-Prince will eventually be located in the Central Urban Directorate, even though the maintenance program will be executed by the Metropolitan Directorate;

(d) to strengthen the nine regional departments, as well as a special Metropolitan Directorate for Port-au-Prince. Initially, the central departments of the Ministry will retain complete control over planning, regulations, construction standards, and budget allocations for works; and the regional departments will focus on work execution by force account and limited planning for works of local and regional interest. The central departments will also be restructured in line with the sectoral responsibilities of the Ministry. (1.25)

The broad reorganization of the Ministry, along the above lines, will take at least two years to implement. For the transitional period, the Government has established a Coordinating Unit (CU) under the responsibility of the General Directorate, to manage the implementation of the road program. CU will be assisted by two small teams, one each for the interurban and urban programs. All functions to support the programs, including planning, supervision, fostering labor-intensive techniques, and programming works by force account, will still be performed within the existing departments, but through dedicated units reporting directly to department directors. Those units would eventually be integrated within the new Central Road Directorate and the new Central Urban Directorate, and the Metropolitan Directorate. (1.26)

Private Sector Participation in RoadworksEdit

The conditions are ripe in Haiti to shift maintenance activities from force account to the private sector and local communities. The capacity of the Permanent National Roads Maintenance Service (SEPRRN's) has been drastically reduced and its equipment reassigned or sold. By contrast, the implementation capacity of the private sector has grown and the local communities have demonstrated their ability to perform good maintenance.

The private local construction sector has developed continuously over the last ten years as revealed by a survey of that sector, originally undertaken in 1991 and updated recently. Three major firms capable of carrying out major works and twenty eight small to medium firms with capacity for periodic and routine maintenance have emerged over the past decade. The performance of local contractors, tested under a pilot road maintenance project under the IDA-financed Seventh Transport Project, demonstrated a generally satisfactory response to bids and good work quality. Some minor problems with inefficiency, insufficient equipment and bid preparation, noted both in the survey and during the actual implementation, are expected to be resolved with technical assistance under the proposed project.

Road maintenance by the communities started in the late-seventies under a USAID financed program. Since then, the number of communities supported by SEPRRN under its CAMP program has continuously increased, from 20 in the early eighties, maintaining about 84 km of roads, to about 55 under the recent pilot maintenance program, maintaining about 600 km. The performance of this program is hard to assess due to the continuous budget constraints, which have prevented appropriate support by SEPRRN. In particular, quality seems to have been low due to inadequate supervision, lack of transport facilities, delayed deliveries of materials and hand tools, and long and cumbersome payment procedures. These problems were reviewed by an International Labour Organization (ILO) expert in order to incorporate the necessary remedial actions in the proposed project.

Lastly, the abovementioned pilot project also financed a program of city street paving by interlocking concrete blocks (also called pavers or adoquins) over 7 km in Port-au-Prince. This program has been very satisfactory. The number of interested firms has increased drastically since the launching of the program, and the quality of construction has improved steadily following assistance by an expert.

For maintenance by contract and through village communities on the scale proposed under the project to succeed, some key prerequisites need to be fulfilled, including continuity of work, prompt payment for work done and good supervision. The Government intends to create these enabling conditions.

Street Paving by adoquins (interlocking concrete blocks)

This technique of street paving is utilized in many Latin American cities. It was introduced in Haiti in the seventies for the paving of private roads, and in the early eighties for the paving of a few public roads. To test this technique on a larger scale, about 7 km of secondary streets were contracted to local construction firms towards the end of 1989 under an on-going IDA credit. Despite some problems, the response was highly positive. Technical supervision and guidance was provided by a Colombian expert, who organized seminars attended by most local firms. A detailed economic analysis was also carried out as part of project preparation. Its main findings are given below. While the investment cost of street paving by adoquins is higher than through asphalt concrete or double surface treatment, its total economic cost is about the same due to lower maintenance requirements. That technique is also much less cosly in terms of foreign exchange and much more labor-intensive. Comparative costs are given below. Its true economic value cannot, however, be fully evaluated as little research exists on its long term impact on VOC. Sensitivity analysis also demonstrates that its relative economic value is highly sensitive to the price of cement.

Waterways: NEGL; less than 100 km navigable

Ports and harbors: Cap-Haitien, Gonaïves, Jacmel, Jeremie, Les Cayes, Miragoane, Port-au-Prince, Port-de-Paix, Saint-Marc

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 13 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 5 (1999 est.)

See also : Haiti
Saint-Marc 121918

Proposed: Saint-Marc Metro

References and sourcesEdit

Mtptc [1]