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News Article

Sept. 19: Reconstruction Efforts Still Going After Three Years

By Alessa Flores | Tue, 09/22/2020 - 10:04

Just 32 years after the most catastrophic earthquake in the country's history on Sept. 19, 1985, on Sept. 19, 2017, Mexico City was shaken by a 7.1 Mw earthquake. Sixty properties collapsed in the city and more than 22,182 properties were damaged, affecting 2,656 businesses, 368 heritage buildings, 117 hospitals and health clinics, 1,936 educational buildings and 326 cultural spaces, in addition to 5,429 hydraulic networks and five damaged roads, according to data from the Commission for the Reconstruction, Recovery and Transformation of Mexico City.

According to the National Seismological Service (SSN), Mexico is a country with high seismicity located between the Caribbean, Pacific, North America, Rivera and Cocos tectonic plates. However, high seismicity was not reason for so many damages. In a report called ¿Por qué se cayó mi edificio? (Why did my building fell?), the Mexican Association Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) revealed that the main cause for the collapse of several buildings in Mexico City was due to government and private real estate corruption. "Modifications made to engineering calculations to increase the profit margins of construction companies appear in buildings erected with poor quality or insufficient materials and in sites constructed on old foundations reported to be new apartments," the report explains. 

Only a week after the 2017 earthquake, former Head of Government Miguel Ángel Mancera presented the Plan for the Reconstruction, Recovery and Transformation of Mexico City to salvage all the buildings that were damaged after the earthquake, explains a note from El Universal. The plan consisted in temporary support of MX$3,000 (US$157 at September 2017’s exchange rate) per month to people who had lost their homes and long-term mortgage schemes to pay for the reconstruction of lost properties "with preferential rate and cost conditions that would allow the affected population to recover their homes," explained Mancera to El Universal.

It is estimated that Mexico City's government provided only MX$1.64 billion for housing unit repairs during 2017 and 2018. This money "was only sufficient to raise fences, paint walls and reforestation of green areas, but it was not sufficient to deal with the structural damage detected in these buildings," explains MCCI with data from the Mexico City Social Prosecutor's Office (PROSOC). "The reconstruction work in Mexico City will take five to six years because of the earthquake, so it will also be the responsibility of the next administration," Mancera said in an article by El Economista.

During a visit to the Osa Mayor building site on Sept. 19, in the context of the anniversary of the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes, Head of Government Claudia Sheinbaum pointed out that the previous administration had made no reconstruction works so the new administration had to start from scratch. "We arrived in a circumstance where there was not even a census of victims. After a year, we were only given some Excel sheets with addresses, not even with the names and surnames of the people who had lost their homes," Sheinbaum explained to El Heraldo de México. "We had to start practically from scratch, to see who were the victims, who had properties, who did not have properties and to do organizational work with the victims themselves," she continued.

As of today, 101 out of 370 buildings damaged by the earthquake three years ago have been rehabilitated by the current administration, while 130 buildings are planned to be delivered by the end of 2020. Commissioner for Reconstruction César Cravioto explained that in 2021, the government plans to complete 95 percent of the reconstruction of buildings and houses affected by the 2017 earthquake, reaching 100 percent by 2022, according to a Milenio note.

At the national level, of the 55,000 actions in the National Reconstruction Program, 70 percent are in progress, 11 percent are in progress and 19 percent are about to begin. To date, this program has been used to rebuild more than 34,000 homes, 3,500 schools, 91 hospitals and health centers and nearly 600 temples and buildings that are part of Mexico’s cultural heritage. Between 2019 and 2020, MX$10 billion have been allocated to the program from the federal budget.

Photo by:   jcomp
Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst

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