On the twentieth anniversary of the Puerto Plata earthquake, which took place on September 22, 2003, Leonardo Reyes Madera, general director of the National Office of Seismic Evaluation and Vulnerability of Infrastructure and Buildings (Onesvie), referred to the launching of the first tenders of the Ministry of Education (MINERD), headed by Minister Ángel Hernández, for the reinforcement of 182 school buildings in 60 schools nationwide, which are located in areas close to active seismic faults in the Dominican Republic.
In pondering the relevance of this government initiative, Reyes Madera, a seismic-resistant engineer, emphasized that: “It is thanks to the responsibility assumed by the President of the Republic, Luis Abinader, who is identified and sensitized with the cause, that it has been possible to promote and provide the scenario for this dream of more than 40 years ago to become a reality today.
The initiative to reinforce the schools is the result of the commitment made by the Minerd during the symposium Resilient Schools in the Face of Seismic Events: Challenges in the National Context, organized by Onesvie in October 2022, in the city of Puerto Plata. The head of the institution said that this action marks the beginning of a new stage, in terms of the responsibility of governments in terms of prevention, to safeguard the lives of citizens through the care and evaluation of buildings, infrastructure and lifelines in the country.
The role of Onesvie consisted in the realization of the corresponding studies and the delivery of the plans of the schools to be intervened by the Minerd, and will also have the responsibility of supervising the reinforcement works.
Reyes Madera recalled that the 2003 earthquake in Puerto Plata, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, “was just a rehearsal of what could happen and showed the weaknesses of essential works such as our school buildings”.
He expressed that “a strong will at a national level, with the integration of the sectors involved in the subject, is needed to reduce seismic vulnerability to the minimum expression”.
He also stated that a precedent is being set with the corrective action of the Government, through the work of Onesvie and the Minerd. “This is prevention, it is getting ahead of what is to come. I am pleased to say that this is the beginning of the resilience of our school buildings. Today, institutions such as Onesvie and Sodosismica, together with the whole country, we celebrate the resurgence of hope.”
With his well-known phrase “We still have time”, the head of Onesvie urged that, with this step, more public offices begin the process of reviewing their buildings, in order to detect if they present any vulnerability, a practice that he hopes will result in the conformation of a general program for the preservation of life and national heritage, which would include in a first stage essential buildings, such as hospitals, until covering the entire national territory, he said.
It is an institution attached to the Presidency of the Republic, whose mission is to contribute to mitigate the seismic risk of buildings and infrastructure, to protect the lives of citizens through technical and educational procedures. The services offered by Onesvie are available for public and private institutions, as well as for individual citizens.