GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala will need five years to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Agatha, which hit the Central American country last month, President Alvaro Colom said.
“We estimate that it will take about five years to complete a full reconstruction,” Colom said Saturday.
A full assessment of the damage and reconstruction cost has not yet been completed, the president said, but he noted that the total cost could exceed $125 million.
Tropical Storm Agatha destroyed more than 20 important bridges and nearly 100 secondary bridges, as well as about 500 schools, dozens of highways, water works and local roads, official reports say.
Clearing rivers “will take a long time” because these projects cannot be completed “from night to morning,” Colom said.
Restoring water service in areas where distribution systems collapsed and rebuilding bridges and roads is the priority, the president said.
Congress will be asked to modify this year’s budget so an $85 million World Bank loan can be included and the projects for which other loans were intended can be changed, Colom said.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said Sunday it was requesting $14.5 million to assist victims of Tropical Storm Agatha.
The funds will be used to provide food, medicines, water, medical assistance and educational services to storm victims in Guatemala, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency John Holmes said.
Agatha, a Pacific storm, killed at least 174 people in the Central American country, left about 100 others missing and affected millions of people.