Nias quake survivors want faster reconstruction

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
By nias

Wednesday, December 21, 2005Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Almost a year after the tsunami, survivors on Nias in North Sumatra have accused both the central and local administrations of not moving fast enough in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts on the island.

The view was expressed in the latest study on tsunami and earthquake survivor management conducted by the Institute for Policy Study and Advocation in Medan.

The institute's executive director, Efendi Panjaitan, said that nearly a year after the tsunami and nine months after the massive earthquake that rocked the island in March, survivors had not been informed of how long it would be before their houses were rebuilt.

He said the survivors on the island were prepared to rebuild at their own expense once the government gave them the go-ahead.

"Our field study in Nias shows that survivors face problems in rebuilding their houses due to the absence of spatial planning, making them remain in makeshift shelters," Efendi told The Jakarta Post, adding that the construction of at least 300 houses was indefinite as the government had yet to issue building permits.

The tsunami, which devastated Aceh and part of North Sumatra in December last year, and the quake which struck the island on March 28 this year, claimed the lives of 685 people in Nias regency and 165 in South Nias regency.

According to the institute's findings, 28,024 houses were destroyed by the earthquake and the tsunami in Nias, and another 17,326 houses in South Nias.

A tsunami and earthquake survivor in South Nias, Hurezame Sarumaha, said many people, particularly those from South Nias, had been forced to seek a living in other areas, such as Riau, West Sumatra and the North Sumatra capital of Medan.

Hurezame, a community leader and former Nias councillor, said the government needed to act quickly before survivors left Nias to start afresh, so they no longer had to live in temporary housing.

Most of the survivors, he said, were aware that aid from relief organizations had been sent to Nias, but had not been distributed.

"We are not only the victims of the disasters now, but have been deprived of relief aid," Hurezame said.

Head of the Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency William Sahbandar said his office understood residents' disappointment.

However, he denied that the delays were due to the bureaucracy, saying the problems were mostly technical ones.

"The efforts in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process on Nias are different from those in Aceh. On Nias, the most crucial problem faced by us is transportation. However, we should be optimistic that all things can be accomplished," said William.

Leave a Reply

Comment spam protected by SpamBam

Kalender Berita

December 2005