Tuesday, February 08, 2005

M'sia, Indonesia Mull Two Options To Rebuild Banda Aceh, Says Najib

From Jamaluddin Muhammad

BANDA ACEH, Feb 7 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and Indonesia are considering two options in drawing the redevelopment masterplan for this tsunami-ravaged town, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday.

The options are whether to rebuild this town at the present site or on a higher ground elsewhere, he told reporters after opening Malaysia's disaster aid centre in Jantho, about 60km from here.

He said a concept plan would be ready in a month while the masterplan in three months.

The Indonesian Government had agreed to Malaysia's offer to draw up the masterplan.

Banda Aceh was nearly wiped out in the underwater earthquake and tsunami tidal waves.

Najib said Banda Aceh's redevelopment philosophy and architectural design would be based on the local culture and history, complying to the government and the people's wish.

He could not state the reconstruction cost and how long it would take to redevelop this Aceh provincial capital, saying it depended on the masterplan.

He said financing of the redevelopment programme would be decided later after Malaysia and Indonesia negotiated with the Multilateral Fund and Manila-based Asian Development Bank.

Najib also announced Malaysia would build temporary houses to tsunami survivors in Jantho and Lhoong, another two tsunami-hit towns.

He said Malaysia's disaster aid centre would also be set up in Lhoong so that relief and humanitarian aid could be channelled more efficiently.

The 600 orphans at the Kota Jantho centre, which has a capacity to accommodate 2,000 inmates, received food supply, healthcare and education.

Speaking at the function, Indonesia's Social Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah thanked the Malaysian Government and the people for their generous contributions.

He described the close ties between the government and the people of both neighbours as "if you pinch the left thigh, the right thigh will feel the pain."

Meanwhile, Mohamed Ikhbar, 14, said he was happy to be at the Kota Jantho centre as his welfare had been taken care.

"Previously, sometimes I eat and other times no, but now food is not a problem. My health is also being cared for," said Mohamed, the sole survivor in his family of four in the tragedy.

His parents and elder sister were killed.

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, Information Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said were present.

Also present was Malaysia's Defence Forces' Chief Jen Tan Sri Zahidi Zainuddin.

-- BERNAMA

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