Banda Aceh. A number of homes still remain unfinished, but at 10 a.m. on Thursday, the nameplate of the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency, or BRR, was taken down from its office in Lueng Bata, as scheduled.

The agency closed down after four years of overseeing the massive task of rebuilding the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Aceh Province and Nias Island.

BRR’s chairman, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, said during the agency’s final press conference here that through cooperation with regional governments, donor countries, UN agencies and NGOs, and a Rp 35 trillion ($3.25 billion) budget, they had managed to rebuild Aceh and Nias as planned.

“The target was achieved. All numbers in the blueprint were achieved,” he said. “In the first blueprint, we were supposed to build 90,000 houses. But as of today, 140,304 housing units have already been constructed.”

Kuntoro said, however, that a few more houses were being constructed by various organizations. Some 400 families, victims of the tsunami, are still living in temporary shelters.

“Those still living in barracks already know when and where their houses will be completed, so they have no worries at all,” he said, explaining that the remaining unfinished houses were due to unscrupulous contractors who had run away with the construction funds.

Kuntoro said that having overseen about 15,000 projects, it was not unexpected for BRR to leave a few remaining loose ends, especially given the scale of destruction caused by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, which killed more than 170,000 people in the province and destroyed infrastructure along 800 kilometers of coastline.

But he added that some BRR personnel would remain in Aceh until the end of the year to oversee the completion of these projects.

During its four-year mandate, BRR also built 13 airports and airstrips, 23 seaports, 1,115 medical facilities, 1,759 schools, 3,696 kilometers of road, 363 bridges and 996 government buildings. It also assisted 195,726 small- and medium-sized enterprises, trained 155,182 workers and 39,663 teachers, and rehabilitated 101,240 hectares of farmland.

“Hopefully, BRR will be recorded as a good part of history,” Kuntoro said. (Nurdin Hasan, Jakarta Globe, 16 April 2009)

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