Three-phase rebuilding plan for Aceh


Process covers rescue and relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

THE Indonesian government has drawn up a three-phase programme to rebuild the tsunami-hit Aceh province.

Aides close to Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, who heads the national coordinating council on the disaster (Bakornas), said that the process would stretch over five years, covering rescue and relief operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Mr Tanri Abeng, a former minister for state enterprises under the Habibie administration and a close confidant of Mr Jusuf, told The Straits Times: ‘We have come up with a five-year timeline to develop Aceh.

‘We are confident of meeting our deadline by clearing all three phases of our plan.’

The first stage involves rescue and relief efforts in the area, which lost over 100,000 people in the tsunami disaster.

The province is now the centre of a huge international aid effort although senior Indonesian government officials expect foreign-run relief operations to wind down in three months.

One of the key tasks during this period is to help construct camps for some 200,000 homeless Acehnese.

Mr Tanri said that the government would clear the first phase ‘easily within 90 days’.

That is one reason why President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Jusuf had indicated this week that foreign troops should not stay beyond this period.

The armed forces of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States have all rushed task forces to the stricken region of Aceh on Sumatra island.

But as Mr Jusuf pointed out, there was a time limit to foreign soldiers being on Indonesian soil.

‘Three months is enough. In fact, the sooner the better.’

He said that in the next phase, Aceh would need foreign medical workers and engineers instead of military assistance.

During this period, expected to last about nine months, the emphasis would be on restoring water and electricity supplies and rebuilding damaged roads.

In the last phase of reconstruction, Jakarta would invite local and foreign contractors for major infrastructural projects.

Given the widespread devastation in areas like Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, the government believes that would take four years.

In the meantime, the Indonesian military is playing a key role in coordinating aid efforts and Indonesian politicians are making regular trips to the region.

Yesterday, Dr Yudhoyono travelled to the island of Similieu in Aceh to assess the damage to the area. Today, he will be visiting the island of Nias in North Sumatra.

Sources said that Mr Jusuf also has plans to fly to Banda Aceh early next week where several senior government officials, including Coordinating Minister for Welfare Alwi Shihab, are currently on the ground to coordinate relief operations.

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