19 January 2018

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A year after the tsunami, Susilo prays with survivors in Banda Aceh

Aceh's reconstruction is slow going for lack of materiel such as bricks and lumber. Rebuilding Nias Island will take another ten years.

Banda Aceh (AsiaNews) – "Let us pray for the victims and honour those who have survived" and work to rebuild the future, said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on the day that commemorates the first anniversary since a seaquake destroyed the coastline and much of the interior of the province of Ache, Sumatra Island. The area was the closest to the epicentre of the underwater earthquake that provoked the mass surge known as a tsunami.

Relatives, survivors, top army and government officials met just outside of the city of Banda Aceh, at Ule Lheu, site of a mass grave where now a monument to tsunami victims stands.

Together with some children from Aceh, Susilo threw flowers whilst those present observed a minute of silence.

The president called on Indonesians, who suffered the most (168,000 dead), to pray for the victims. He asked survivors to overcome last year's sorrow and be optimistic so as to rebuild an even better Aceh. At Lhok Nga, he shared a meal with orphans from Aceh.

A year after the tragedy the new tsunami early warning system with alarm sirens was also inaugurated. And in the Great Baiturrahman Mosque in Banda Aceh, thousands of people gathered for prayers led by Muhammad Arifin Ilham, who came from Jakarta for that purpose.

In a report to the nation, the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency said that by the end of 2006, 78,000 homes for survivors will be built. Another 120,000 must also be built for Aceh and Nias Island.

"The Aceh-Nias agency will provide 40,000 homes, the rest will come from foreign NGOs," says Heru Prasetyo, a donor international liaison officer.

Technical problems explain why reconstruction plans in Aceh have been moving too slowly, he said. There are in fact shortages in building materials such as bricks and lumber. So much so that Mr Prasetyo urged NGOs to bring in their own materiel.

Infrastructure is another major headache. "Roads between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, the only ones that exist, can support only five tonne loads. We cannot bring in materiel that exceeds this figure," he added.

Various local NGOs have criticised the slow pace of the Aceh-Nias agency. Urban Poor Consortium Coordinator Wardah Hafidz said that the Aceh-Nias agency has done too little for the reconstruction process.  She points out that thousands of homeless people are still living in tents across Aceh.

According to William Sahbandar, head of the Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency, it will take nine to ten years before the island can be fully rebuilt. "Infrastructure reconstruction per se needs four to five years. In Poio, another four to five years will be needed to rehabilitate society to its pre-2004 situation," he said.

The reconstruction bill for Nias Island is estimated to reach US$ 10 billion.

See also

26/12/2006 INDONESIA
Tsunami: Reconstruction in Aceh and Nias Island blocked by corruption
More than 97 billion rupiahs disappear in the pockets of government officials, Christians on Nias Island complain that housing and infrastructures have not been rebuilt. Today a sombre ceremony will mark the 167,000 people who died in the tragedy.

27/12/2006 INDONESIA
Flooding kills 109 people in Sumatra
Torrential rains have been falling on the province since December 21 forcing more than 400,000 residents to flee. The central government issues a national emergency as local authorities warn of a pending food crisis. Illegal logging is blamed for the tragedy.

04/01/2006 INDONESIA
Labour shortage for Aceh-Nias reconstruction

The alarm was raised by the head of a government agency for post-tsunami programmes. But he has been accused of not employing local people for works.

12/09/2007 INDONESIA
Tsunami alert issued after undersea quake strikes 100 kilometres off the Sumatra coast
A powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck a few hours ago. It was felt as far as 2,000 kilometres away from the epicentre. Many buildings have been damaged and power is out. Muslims are particularly affected since tonight it is the start of Ramadan.

23/11/2006 INDONESIA
Aceh awaiting post-tsunami houses as corruption hinders rebuilding

Hard-hitting claims have been levelled at the government agency that manages rehabilitation funds for Aceh and Nias: executives get dizzying wages while field projects are abandoned half-way through for "lack of money".

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