The Ground Threatens to Swallow an Entire Building in Havana’s Lawton Neighborhood

Though it has not been adequately maintained, the 1939 building was considered among the most solid in Havana’s Lawton neighborhood. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, September 6, 2021 — Residents of the Havana neighborhood Lawton had long been warning of the dangers of the sewer repairs being done in their neighborhood. Their fears were realized on Sunday when a huge sinkhole opened up next to an excavation at the corner of 16th and C streets, causing structural failure in a building that, until yesterday, was one of the few in this distressed neighborhood that people still admired.

Built in 1939, it retains some of its original stylish design. Though it is has not been adequately maintained, the building, which includes a ground-floor shop and several apartments, used to be considered among the most solid structures in Lawton. Now, cracks are visible througout its facade and the danger of collapse has become very real. Such a collapse would have serious ramifications for six people and a state-run store. According to the official press, as many as four neighboring buildings could also be impacted.

In an article published by a representative of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources in Havana, Manuel Paneque Gomez claims that the company in charge of the project and the state itself will be responsible for any damages to public and private propertay as well as for reinforcing the already precarious building structures. Residents complain, however, that proper security measures have not been put in place, nor have public notices been issued, so they expect little from the state-owned company.

The project to upgrade the sewage system involves a 5,000-foot route and four-foot pipes. It is expected to serve more than 100,000 residents in the neighborhoods of Arroyo Naranjo and Diez de Octubre. But this month’s torrential rains began alarming area residents and the strong storm that hit  the Cuban capital on Saturday was the final blow.


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