On the Ground in Haiti: Day 4

Without Ferdinand Cadet, many things would stop in Côteaux. His gas station is the only source for fuel for 45 miles. When it has gasoline, that is.

When I arrived in Côteaux, Cadet had gone eight days without gas to sell. The delivery from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, was late.

Ferdinand Cadet at his gas station where motorists line up to fill up. (Photo By: Garrett Hubbard)
Ferdinand Cadet at his gas station where motorists line up to fill up. (Photo By: Garrett Hubbard)

Finally, the gas truck rolled down the small main street. A group of motorcycles started lining up, waiting to fill their tanks.

Before interviewing Cadet, I wondered how his business will be affected when reliable electricity comes to Côteaux. Cadet sells kerosene for cook stoves and lamps, and diesel for power generators, meaning that he is, in many ways, the source of electricity and light for many people in his town.

He wasn’t concerned. Electricity will bring new business to Côteaux, Cadet said, which means more customers. And he wants to see his community blossom.

“Electricity is the victor of development,” Cadet told us, adding that electricity will transform this sleepy beach town.

We watched him paying close attention to the deliveryman examine the yardstick that measured the newly acquired fuel in the underground tank. With money in one hand and his ledger book on his lap, Cadet didn’t look happy. He told us later that he ordered and paid for 900 gallons, but was short 42 gallons.

Cadet has a gentle demeanor. He moved to Côteaux because he liked the slow pace of this community. The sounds of blaring horns from motorcycles and cars in his gas station drowned his voice many times during our conversation. While waiting for things to quiet down he talked about his garden and his family.

I am not sure the gas man will love Côteaux as much when electricity comes.

Read the entire series of dispatches from Haiti on NRECA International and the people it serves.

This story was originally published on RE Magazine.