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Immediate infrastructure reconstruction cost for Chile, 1.2 billion USD

Tuesday, March 9th 2010 - 19:03 UTC
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Outgoing Chilean Public Works minister Sergio Bitar Outgoing Chilean Public Works minister Sergio Bitar

Chilean Public Works Minister Sergio Bitar estimated that the reconstruction and reparation of sidewalks, airports, canals, and other infrastructure works will cost around 1.2 billion US dollars, after the earthquake that devastated the nation. The quake was an 8.8 on the Richter scale.

The number is an estimate and does not include hospitals, schools, housing, public buildings or commercial ports, which private consultants estimate closer to 12 billion USD. Bitar said that the only port that is still not functioning is Talcahuano, a coastal zone hit by a tsunami, following the quake.

The minister also strongly criticized the delays that private businesses have had in reinstating water and electricity, mainly.

“Water, electricity and communication are in private hands and the government has to answer for them...We have to improve the capacity to react to these situations on the part of these companies, in the face of the earthquake,” he said.

Bitar also said that the Santiago airport is operating almost normally, because the national terminal is already functioning and the international terminal could be up and running this week.

This is the first official estimation given by authorities after the disaster that shook over 1,600 kilometres of Chilean soil.

However both President Michelle Bachelet and president elect Sebastián Piñera have stated that the final cost of repairing Chile could be in the range of 30 billion USD over a period of four to fives years. Multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter American Development bank estimate losses of up to 15% of Chile’s GDP.

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