Analyses & Opinions

Road construction in Haiti or money bonanza for Laurent Lamothe & Company

Editor's Statement: On or about January 18, 2014, Tout Haiti published an article entitled "Road construction in Haiti or money bonanza for Laurent Lamothe & Company." The article was written by Emmanuel Roy, who does not and has never worked for Tout Haiti. Further, having been convicted of fraud, Mr. Roy is currently incarcerated in federal prison in the United States. Mr. Roy's article made certain accusations against Jean Marie Vorbe and his company, V&F Construction, S.A. d/b/a Vorbe et Fils, which led to Mr. Vorbe and V&F filing a lawsuit for defamation.

Tout Haiti did not author, investigate, or fact check Mr. Roy's article or files; nor has Tout Haiti independently corroborated Mr. Roy's accusations as they pertain to Mr. Vorbe and V&F in this article. In light of the foregoing and Mr. Vorbe's vehement denial and protest against the accusations, Tout Haiti has decided to post this statement.....

Editor's Statement:  On January 16, 2014, Tout Haiti posted an article entitled "Road construction in Haiti or money bonanza for Laurent Lamothe & Company.'" This article was written by Emmanuel Roy, who does not and has never worked for Tout Haiti. Further, having been convicted of criminal activities including fraud, Mr. Roy is currently incarcerated in federal prison in the United States. Mr. Roy's article made certain accusations against the company Ingenieria Estrella S.A., which led Ingenieria Estrella S.A. to file a lawsuit for defamation.

Tout Haiti did not author, investigate, or fact check Mr. Roy's article or files; nor has Tout Haiti independently corroborated Mr. Roy's accusations as they pertain to Ingenieria Estrella S.A. in this article. In light of the foregoing and the vehement denial and protest against the accusations by Ingenieria Estrella S.A., Tout Haiti has decided to post this statement.

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By: Emmanuel Roy

Washington, DC - it is good to be Laurent Salvador Lamothe these days because for every mile of road that is built in Haiti he receives a $150,000.00 bribe and a 10% kickback on profits from Vorbe et Fils, SA and Ingeniería ESTRELLA, the two construction companies responsible for building, repairing, and maintaining many of Haiti's roads.

Vorbe et Fils is a Haitian construction company headed by Jean Marie Vorbe of the famous Vorbe family. The company has been in existence for nearly four decades and has consistently received contracts for Road construction and maintenance from the Haitian government dating back to at least 1971. The company has a history of paying bribes and kickbacks to Haitian government officials in exchange for contracts. In March of 2007 during a business meeting in Port-Au-Prince in the presence of this writer, the president of Vorbe et Fils, Jean Marie Vorbe, explained why Haitian Roads and Highways are in such terrible shape. He said:

"once you receive a contract from the government, the president is waiting for his part of the money, the prime minister wants his cut, the Secretary of State for public works is waiting for his share, the minister of public works must be paid, and by the time you pay all the government officials there is no money left to complete the project. It is a catch 22, if you don't do it your competitor will and you won't get the job, and if you do do it there isn't enough money left to complete the project..."

It is very disconcerting to know that this practice is still well and alive in Haiti today despite the fact that Prime minister Laurent Lamothe boasts of running a zero corruption government while he himself continues to perpetuate the practice of bribes and kickbacks.

Estrella is a Dominican construction company headquartered in Santiago, Dominican Republic. This company has been working in Haiti at least since 2008 and has received several contracts for road construction through the Inter-American Bank for Development (IDB) which essentially prevented Haitian government officials from receiving bribes and kickbacks since they neither control the biddings process nor the payment to the companies.

In 2012, Prime minister Laurent Lamothe, businessman par excellence, found a new way to make money illegally through bribes and kickbacks. Last year, the Laurent Lamothe propaganda machine was in full swing announcing the construction of two Elevated Highway Interchanges in the municipalities of Delmas and Carrefour. Both interchanges are to be constructed by Estrella for a total cost of over 35 million U.S. dollars to be financed by the PetroCaribe fund which is not controlled by any international organization.

However, Mr. Lamothe failed to apprise the Haitian people of the following facts: prior to 2011 both Estrella and Vorbe et Fils charged $900,000 per each mile of road built, in 2011, Laurent Lamothe increased the cost of mile chargeable to the Haitian government to $1,050.000, personally pocketing the extra $150,000. In addition, according to sources familiar with the negotiation, both Estrella and Vorbe et Fils are paying Lamothe an extra 10% on the profits they make on all projects signed by Laurent Lamothe as prime minister and/or Minister of Plannification.

It is not at all surprising that these two companies have received a hundred percent of all the road building projects covering Haiti's ten departments. Estrella Construction is responsible for building, repairing and maintaining the following roads: crossroads of Freycineau (Saint Marc) / Bigot (Gonaïves), Artibonite Department, (Route National #1); Joffre and Bienac K Soleil Roads in the department of Artibonite; and route national # 7 including the two overpass in Port-Au-Prince. According to the contract this project which started on October 2011 is to be completed by September 2014.

Vorbe et Fils is responsible for the rehabilitation of the road section Petite Rivière de Nippes / Petit Trou de Nippes (Nippes department); the rehabilitation of the road of Paillant; the reconstruction of the road of Canapé-vert in the department of the West and the complete rehabilitation of the road Desdunes in the Artibonite department. According to Government documents these projects commenced on July 2013 and are scheduled to be completed at the end of this month.

The Haitian parliament whose job it is to oversee, and investigate these bogus contracts is unable to do its job fully. With one third of the senate missing, it is almost impossible to convene a forum of senators, much less investigate these crimes against the country. In any democratic law in order country, Laurent Salvador Lamothe would have been indicted, prosecuted and jailed, but in Haiti, government corruption is a way of life, and as long as the Haitian people continue to accept this type of corruption from its government officials we will continue in this vicious circle of poverty. While people are dying of hunger, unable to feed or send their children to school or pay for them to see a doctor, their prime minister, Laurent Salvador Lamothe is finding a new way to rob the Haitian Government, a $150,000 at a time.

Follow Manny on Twitter:
@ejrmanny
The writer is a former political advisor to President Michel Joseph Martelly.

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