2017 earthquake: reconstruction work continues in Puebla


five years later 2017 earthquakes, local companies are continuing reconstruction work in different parts of the state of Puebla. The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) owes around 60 million pesos to several construction companies involved in the response to buildings, historical monuments and religious temples that were affected.

Although in some cases the repair works have already been completed, there are areas where they continue and in others there are still actions to be taken, said the president of the Mexican Chamber of Industry of the Construction (CMIC), Héctor Sánchez Morales.

were more than 15 local construction companies affiliated with the organization who joined in the reconstruction work after the effects generated by the seismic phenomenon of September 2017 with damage to cultural, historical heritage and state services.

In an interview for MILLENNIUM Pueblathe businessman acknowledged that the reconstruction works have been prolonged due to various factors, including the change of federal government, the deactivation of the Natural Disaster Fund (Fonden) and the restriction of activities that the health emergency has involved due to covid-19.

According to federal government data, the earthquake five years ago damaged more than 621 historic buildings, most religious temples from the 16th to 19th centuries, as well as houses, historical monuments, hospitals and educational spaces. The September 19, 2017 earthquake reached a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale with an epicenter one kilometer from San Felipe Ayutla, Puebla.

The phenomenon affected the southern region of the state, mainly municipalities such as Izúcar from Matamoros, Atlixco and Chiautla from Tapiawhere buildings and monuments considered state heritage have been affected.

According to the president of the CMIC of Puebla, local companies have participated in part of the heritage protection work and, to date, “There are a lot of things that are pending. In some they have ended up with small maintenance or shoring works and others that are in the process of finishing works “.

Construction companies have responded with specialized labor and machinery around 70 properties, including buildings and temples, particularly in the southern part of the state and some in the city of Puebla.

“This is the area we were working on. Hay algunas partes donde se hicieron se hicieron profundas y otras donde se hicieron apuntalamientos como en Izúcar de Matamoros, donde ahorita se está en un proceso de terminación en uno de los templos de esa zona, que fue la más afectada en su momento”, commented the businessman.

These works represented around 120 million pesos which was covered at the time by local construction companies; however, to date, 50% has been registered and the payment by the Federation has been done “in dribs and drabs”.

Sánchez Morales explained that there is a dialogue and a willingness of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to follow the intervention of real estate and seek funds to cover the debt of the works carried out.

He commented that in a process of reviewing the 2017 earthquake records, the need for new projects was determined because, Over time, some properties continue to be damaged and require maintenance.

He revealed that new contracts are being sought to carry out this work in order to protect the historic buildings: “A lot was on hold. Temples that have foundations and which absolutely must be taken care of. We have been in constant communication with INAH on different issues, of course on the issue pending payment, but also on issues to be executed, including new projects, churches or infrastructure left unattended. Gradually, the problem cleared up. »

Resource management

With the disappearance of federal funds, INAH took over resource management and payments started to be coveredbut some construction projects require updating.

As of 2021, more than 60% of the historical heritage affected would have been intervened, with which more than 90 properties remain to be dealt with, according to the archives of the Federation.

“Significant efforts had to be made to collect and reorganize all the files that were held. Photographs, executive projects, at the moment they have been reworked to order, there are adjustments that have been made in the budgets, some works that have involved more investment and INAH tries to recognize them. There are other budgets that have been presented and at the time of their review some work had not been done, so they adjusted, in this process of communication that we follow, I think it has been a effort on both sides, both from the federal government and through INAH and through the construction companies that we represent”, underlined the head of CMIC.

In this way, Sánchez Morales estimated that the payment of the seismic heritage intervention program could be concluded by 2024.

“INAH has already been able to make payments of almost 50%, there is still 50% pending, but we are in talks and the important thing is that we are still working. It’s not the pace that we would like, because all these processes are always between changes of government, but we have a very good disposition from INAH and we are halfway there. We thought it would be a two to three year process, part in 2022, part in 2023, part in 2024 to fully liquidate the pending earthquakes,” the builder chief said.

The culture before earthquakes is a culture of reaction, not prevention

According to Eduardo Ismael Hernández, professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (Upaep), Puebla is located in an area that may present risks of disasters due to geodynamic phenomena.

In the presence of earthquakes, the researcher stressed the importance of prevention programs at the state level, updating risk atlases and constructions designed to deal with these phenomena.

The president of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC), Héctor Sánchez Morales, agrees with the above, pointing out that in Puebla there is a culture of reaction and not of prevention in the face of earthquakes.

He considered that with regard to the various natural phenomena that have affected the state, the authorities have proposed the creation of a civil protection committee in which specialists from the College of Engineers, the College of Architects, CMIC, as well as the National Chamber of the Housing Development and Promotion Industry (Canadevi) and the College of Appraisers with the aim of helping to identify risk areas and define response actions in the event of a contingency or emergency.

“We are still in a culture of reaction and not of prevention and, in this, we have had approaches with municipal and state governments to be able to insist on this committee in which we all participate, proposing reaction protocols in the face of any emergency. . or natural situations, call them earthquakes, floods, fires. I think it is worth insisting on this proposal to form the civil protection committee and strengthen emergency protocols”.

At the same time, the head of CMIC stressed the need to update the risk atlas in the state in order to prevent situations that could endanger the inhabitants of the State and the heritage.

At the time, the president of the College of Engineers of Puebla (Cicepac), Enrique García Fuentes, said that Puebla needed more specialists to supervise the works. While at the national level it is estimated that there are ten thousand directors responsible for the works, in Puebla the figure represents around a thousand specialists, an insufficient figure considering that it is an area at risk of seismic activity. .

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