Local June 26, 2023 | 8:23 am

Over 70,000 illegal houses are built annually in the Dominican Republic, which exposes them to earthquakes

Santo Domingo.- Héctor O Reilly, the president of the Dominican Society of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering (Sodoseísmica), emphasized that the vulnerability of homes in the Dominican Republic is increasing each year. He revealed that approximately 70,000 homes are constructed illegally in the country annually. O Reilly shared this information during his participation in the International Congress on Earthquakes and Vulnerability, organized by the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors (Codia) last weekend.

The president of Sodoseísmica obtained this data from the Ministry of Housing and the census records from 2002 and 2010, which are the most recent surveys available. However, he cautioned that the accuracy of the presented data cannot be guaranteed until more reliable information, such as that from the National Census conducted by the National Statistics Office in 2022, becomes available.

“While we acknowledge that the situation is deteriorating over time, at least now we have an idea of the scale of the problem,” O Reilly added.

He stressed the importance of determining the total number and locations of homes in the country, as well as the types of homes constructed, to compare this information with the number of licenses granted for formal housing construction.

Héctor O Reilly explained that the Ministry of Housing, responsible for issuing construction licenses in the Dominican Republic, has issued a total of 14,578 licenses nationwide from 2006 to the present. He noted that the year 2022 witnessed the highest number of licenses ever granted by the government, reaching 1,560. “Last year had the largest number of licenses issued in history,” he stated.

“The only homes considered formal are the ones that have licenses,” clarified the specialist, pointing out that this figure does not necessarily match the total number of houses in the country since a project consisting of 200 houses could possess only one license.

A construction license is required to specify the legal, structural, architectural, sanitary, electrical, and material conditions necessary for any project’s execution.

O Reilly emphasized the importance of implementing certain technical solutions already employed in other countries, such as evaluating homes and designing their adaptation, as well as establishing controls on the sale of construction materials to ensure their quality.

He suggested offering training courses and distributing informational booklets that explain correct construction techniques, enabling safe self-construction practices.

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June 26, 2023 9:11 am

I suspect a lot of red tape in obtaining a construction license and simple poverty are contributing to the problem. People just want a roof over their heads, and somewhere to feel comfortable. The cost of building materials is a big deterrent.

Paul Tierney
June 26, 2023 11:41 am
Reply to  Brien

Poor people just want a tin shack or small block house. These constructions have a very small risk of injury from earthquake exposure. It is multi-story constructions of blocks that are at risk of damage because of shoddy construction and oversight.

Paul Tierney
June 26, 2023 11:37 am

70,000 !!!! It means government is not doing anything other than look the other way.