Relief effort extended by two weeks

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Padang | Tue, 11/09/2010 9:30 AM | The Archipelago

The West Sumatra provincial administration has extended the Mentawai Islands tsunami disaster response period to two weeks until Nov. 22 on the grounds that efforts so far have fallen well short of expectations, a government official says.

West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD) Operational Control Center head Ade Edward said the center had extended the emergency response period based on a recommendation from the Mentawai Islands regency administration.

The authorities chose to extend the emergency response period after relief aid distribution was hampered by poor weather and rough terrain.

“The West Sumatra BPBD has also extended the period because the affected villages are difficult to reach and located in remote areas, while the construction of temporary homes has yet to be completed because the government has not decided on their locations,” Ade told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Ade said the government was currently focusing on aid distribution via overland routes and the construction of temporary homes.

Efforts have also been focused on opening a new temporary road through a former timber concession area and stretches for more than 40 kilometers to shelter camps in a hilly region that overlooks the coast where several villages were destroyed.

“We hope the land routes can be used very soon so relief supplies will no longer have to be distributed by air and sea, but rather by motorcycle and car,” he said.

The temporary homes will be equipped with clean tap water provided by the Technology Application and Research Agency (BPPT), as well as sanitation and healthcare facilities.

“So the target for the next two weeks is to complete the construction of decent temporary homes, so evacuees no longer have to live in makeshift tents,” Ade said.

Mentawai Islands regency councilor Jan Winnen Sipayung said the Mentawai Islands regency administration would resolve the temporary housing issue in the next two days.

“We have formed a team to hold discussions with affected residents to determine the sites of the temporary houses, which will be located 20 meters above sea level and at least 2 kilometers from the coast. My duties for North Pagai are now complete. We only have to wait for the results from South Pagai,” Jan said.

West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno, who made a controversial visit to Germany during the disaster, arrived in Padang on Monday. Irwan and Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring, his colleague at the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), immediately visited Sikakap by helicopter.

Irwan apologized to the public for taking his trip to Germany.

“To err and lapse is human. I apologize to all people for my work visit to Germany that has drawn polemics and controversies,” the governor said in a media release on Sunday.

He said he had been invited by the Indonesian ambassador to Germany to a Trade and Investment forum where he became one of the speakers.

“I had no intention to hurt the people who suffered from the disaster,” he said.


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