Ecuador began construction work on 100 schools along its Pacific coast that were destroyed by an earthquake in April, when 668 people died and 30,000 were left homeless.

The government will invest a total of US$96.8mn in school infrastructure in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí by April 2017, education minister Augusto Espinosa said. Each school will be built in 90 days.

The ministry has already invested US$50mn in 26 temporary schools and repairs at other educational facilities in the area to enable 50,000 students to return to classes this month, state news agency Andes cited Espinosa as saying.

The government estimates it needs to raise US$3.344bn to build roads and repair infrastructure in the wake of the 7.8 earthquake that damaged thousands of homes in addition to the port and airport of Manta, potable water systems, 83km of roads, 51 health posts and 875 schools in the area on April 16. Replicas measuring up to 6.2 on the Richter scale caused further damages in Esmeraldas this week, according to the ministry.

An emergency operations committee extended a state of emergency for water and sanitation in Manabí's Chine district, where work is underway on pipeline repairs, Quito-based El Comercio reported. Water tankers are providing the service to 40% of the local population, the daily said.

Authorities plan to demolish 146 of the 2,740 homes and apartment buildings in the area, while donations of prefabricated homes began arriving this month, El Comercio said.

Ecuador, which depends on crude oil for half of its national budget, was already struggling to meet its investment goals after oil prices slumped, slashing government revenue. The country has secured US$500mn from multilateral lenders in emergency reconstruction loans to date.

Correa, who was re-elected to a third straight term in 2013, has nationalized the oil industry, scrapped the 1998 constitution and closed down media outlets in a bid to strengthen state control over the economy.

In other infrastructure news, construction firm Fopeca restarted work after a halt on the US$62mn, 94km Sigsig-Matanga-Gualaquiza highway in Azuay province near the south coast, transport and public works minister Walter Solís said. The road, which is being financed by a Chinese state loan, is 25% completed to date, according to the presidential website.


Source: BNamericas