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Published on May 19th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Building Houses From Crushed Cars & Bikes — Venezuela Moving Ahead With Interesting New Program

May 19th, 2014 by  

Using crushed abandoned cars and bicycles as the raw materials from which new houses will be built — that’s the premise of an interesting new program from the Venezuelan government.

The program is intended to help deal with the steel shortages that have become prevalent in the country — allowing the government to continue its “Great Venezuelan Housing Mission.” The housing mission has been one of the government’s more successful recent policies — in 2012 more than 250,000 housing units of low-income families were refurbished. In 2013 that number dropped to around 150,000, partly because of reduced steel output in recent years.

Venezuelan flag Venezuela

Honestly, I’m probably the last person that you’d ever hear singing the praises of the Venezuelan government, but this approach is an interesting one. I can’t really fault the government for pursuing a policy like this — even if it is, likely, out of economic necessity.

“We have (so far) sent 10,485 automobiles, 9,651 motorbikes and 539 bicycles to the national steel industry,” stated deputy justice minister Maria Martinez, recently during a visit to an abandoned car deposit outside Caracas. Not an insignificant amount of steel.

Martinez notes that that quantity could be used for the rebar in the construction of tens of thousands of housing units.

Reuters provides some numbers on the steel industry’s decline:

Production of rebars in March 2014 was at an 18-year monthly low of 8,796 tonnes, down from 46,051 tonnes in March last year.

Venezuelan steelmaker Sidor has an installed annual capacity of 5 million tonnes, but output has declined since its nationalization six years ago due to frequent protests and insufficient investment. Total steel output reached a 16-year low of 1.5 million tonnes in 2012, and was only slightly higher at 1.6 million in 2013.

The steelmaker’s problems are part of a general malaise in the South American OPEC nation’s once-buoyant metals industry.

Given the presence of that malaise, it’ll be interesting to see how successful this program will end up being.

While we’re on the subject of Venezuela… there hasn’t been much solar or wind energy development in recent years, but the country does possess very substantial hydroelectric generating capacity. So, despite the country’s image as an oil producer, the recent move certainly isn’t out of left-field.

Image Credit: Venezuelan Flag via Flickr CC 


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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