Zero reconstruction in Aceh

JAKARTA: The Indonesian official in charge of rebuilding tsunami-hit Aceh province said yesterday he was shocked at how little had been done for survivors and that virtually no money had been disbursed for reconstruction. 

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, in the job for just over a week, said there was no sense of urgency in disbursing the six trillion rupiah (RM2.3bil) earmarked in the government's budget this year for tsunami rebuilding. 

He said approval from parliament was needed to disburse the funds, adding he did not expect it to be available until September. 

In the meantime, Kuntoro said his agency would rely on US$2bil (RM7.6bil) pledged by big non-governmental agencies and the private sector to kick start reconstruction in Aceh. 

DISMAL CONDITIONS: Rahul (right) a five-year-old orphan plays with her friends near theremainsof their homes in Kruet village on the outskirts of Banda Aceh. — Reuterspic

“It's shocking,” Kuntoro said after spending several days in Aceh to get a first-hand look at the monumental task he faces. 

“There are no roads being built, there are no bridges being built. There are no harbours being built. When it comes to reconstruction, zero.” 

A magnitude-9 earthquake on Dec 26 off the coast of Sumatra island triggered a massive tsunami that left 160,000 people dead or missing in Aceh province.  

Around half a million are still homeless. 

The Aceh Rehabilitation and Reconstruction agency headed by Kuntoro will ultimately manage nearly US$5bil (RM19bil) in reconstruction aid. 

A Stanford University-trained engineer and plain-speaking former energy minister, Kuntoro's appointment has been applauded by the international community. He reports directly to the president. 

Kuntoro said he had sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance yesterday to seek bridging finance for some projects. 

One example of the holdup was a US$30mil (RM1.14bil) fibre-optic cable that will make the local capital Banda Aceh a wireless zone. 

It had been waiting since February for approval, Kuntoro said. He gave the go-ahead during his second day on the job. – Reuters  

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