Funded by Irish billionaire, Denis O’Brien, the iconic Iron Market in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince was officially reopened by former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, on Wednesday.
The building was the first in the city to be restored since the earthquake devastated the capital over year ago. The rebuilding of the market is being portrayed as a symbol of the country’s determination to recover.
At a cost of $12 million the reconstruction took 11-months despite obstacles such as monsoon rains and the cholera outbreak.
“Denis O’Brien has been a catalyst for many of the good things that have happened in Haiti, both before and after the earthquake,” Mr Clinton said.
“Since last year, he has been the facilitator for our Clinton Global Initiative’s [CGI] Haiti Action Network, and to date, CGI members have made more than $224 million in commitments,” he added.
At the official opening, Muscadin Jean-Yves Jason, the mayor of Port-au-Prince praised Mr O’Brien’s commitment to the city.
The market, which was originally built in Paris in the 1890s, was a hive of activity within the city, before the devastating earthquake.
More than 900 vendors are expected to begin operating from the new building selling arts, crafts, fruit and vegetables, dry produce and beauty products.
Denis O’Brien and his wife Catherine spearheaded the project. The Irishman’s Bermuda based Digicell Group established operations in Haiti in 2006 and remains the largest investor in the country.
The businessman and philanthropist described the market “as important as a social and community entity as it is a place of trade”.