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Rising land price, lack of rules hamper relief work in Aceh BANDA ACEH - The high price of land and lack of rules and planning by the local government have slowed the much-awaited reconstruction and rehabilitation in Aceh, that was hit by a tsunami two years ago, authorities said Tuesday. Head of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said that many requests of the agency to the local government to issue rules or blue-prints of the center of a city have not been met. However, spokesman of the Banda Aceh (capital of the province) administration Mahdi Ibrahim said that the limited budget has made the local government find it difficult to buy lands, whose price has gone up several folds.

"The solution is about land, the land problem must be solved. Masterplan (problem) must be solved," Mangkusubroto told reporters after visiting a mass grave in the town. "You can see now, we want to make double lane here, but we cannot, because the rules about the land has not come out. You see the situation here, it is unfortunately if between the Ulele (district) and the city can not be built a double-lane road," he said. Besides, the head of the agency blamed the local authorities that have not determined the center of the city in Calang regency so that the reconstruction and rehabilitation can not be started.

"Master plan for Calang regency until now has not been issued yet. How can we build government buildings in Calang?" he asked. In some remote areas, which have poor transportation facilities and difficulty in supplying construction materials, have also hampered the relief work. "In Simelu regency, there is no sand, Aceh island also has no sand," he said. "These are the problems that we must solve. We do not wait for a blessing from the sky, we must work hard," Mangkusubroto added. Spokesman Ibrahim said that the community has raised the price of the land partially due to the high inflation in the province. "The prices of daily needs have increased, so maybe because of that they increase their land price," he said.

The spokesman cited an example. The price of land per square meter was about 200,000 or 300,000 rupiah (some 20 or 30 U.S. dollars) before the tsunami, but now, only within two years, the price has increased to about five times. "The problem now is that the government could not afford to pay the land, because the funds allocated is limited," he told Xinhua.

The relief agency relies on the city administration to negotiate the land. The spokesman said that the local authorities have planned to free the area within five kilometers from the coastline, and it would be designed for mangrove forest to hold tsunami.

But, he said that it could not be materialized, as the people, most of whom were living on sea fishing, refused to be relocated from the area because of the difficulty of adjusting their livelihood. "The authorities could not forbid them from rebuilding their houses," he said. "But at least the government had ever warned them to move from the vulnerable tsunami hit area," said the spokesman. Hamid Zein, another spokesman of the provincial government, criticized the absence of a blue-print for Calang. Head of the reconstruction agency Magkusubroto admitted the slow of the relief work due to the problem, which the agency cannot solve.

The problems might cause the low absorption of the donor's funds managed by the agency. "Annually, the agency could only absorb about 30 percent of the funds," Head of the Aceh Cultural Center Hasballah M. Said, who is also a leader in the province, told Xinhua. However, Mangkusubroto expressed his optimism, as much has been achieved by the agency in the half of four-year relief work programs. Besides, donor countries seem to appreciate the work of rebuilding Aceh as they have added realization of their commitment. About 80 percent or some 5.9 billion U.S. dollars of their 7.1 billion U.S. dollar pledges have been carried out.

Top representative of the World Bank in Indonesia Andrew Steer said that the national land agency should pay more attention and involve itself in settling the land problems. "Land is a big problem, we think the national land agency should be much more energetic," he said. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has said to accelerate the reconstruction and rehabilitation in the oil-and-gas rich province through a better planning. He will ask the Indonesian Real Estate to give advice in building houses. Lawmaker representing Aceh in Jakarta Tengku Nurdin has said that budget mechanism that made the agency late in receiving the funds has also dragged down the relief work.

Almost 12,000 families are still living in barracks in Aceh now. The agency and international organizations have prioritized building houses in the land which belongs to the survivors. However, some of those living in barracks do not have their own land or are still in dispute on their land ownership.

Posted in General @ 26 December 2006 12:17 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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