Jakarta to help fund quick rebuilding

A rescue team cutting the concrete of a collapsed building in Pidie Jaya, Aceh province, on Dec 9, 2016.
A rescue team cutting the concrete of a collapsed building in Pidie Jaya, Aceh province, on Dec 9, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

President Joko Widodo yesterday said Aceh residents, whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Wednesday's 6.5-magnitude earthquake, will receive up to 40 million rupiah (S$4,300) to rebuild.

"Families with collapsed or seriously damaged houses will receive 40 million rupiah, while those whose houses are moderately damaged will be given 20 million rupiah in aid from the government," he said. "This will encourage them to start rebuilding their homes."

The President, better known as Jokowi, was speaking to reporters in Pidie Jaya regency, as he made his rounds to visit victims in quake-hit areas in Aceh and as rescue efforts entered its third day.

The powerful quake has claimed the lives of 100 people and destroyed more than 10,500 homes, shophouses, mosques and schools.

Mr Joko said schools will be set up in tents temporarily so children can return to class as soon as possible.


"Rebuilding will start immediately, he said. "The Public Works Ministry and Education ministry will get involved in rebuilding."

His first stop yesterday was the Tgk Chik Ditiro Sigli Hospital, where he visited the bedside of those injured in the quake.

Sigli is a town in Pidie regency, 60km from Pidie Jaya, which is the worst-hit area in Aceh and where ongoing rescue efforts are focused.

He also saw the Al-Aziziyah Islamic Institute in Bireuen, which is 90km from Pidie Jaya. The institute, which has 3,000 students, was also damaged by the quake.

"We will clean up the Al-Aziziyah building tomorrow and we will immediately rebuild... Don't let education stop," said Mr Joko, as he rallied Bireuen residents who had come out to meet him.

Earlier, the President visited schools and a mosque damaged in the quake. The earthquake struck at dawn on Wednesday as many were preparing for prayers. He also paid tribute to hospital workers who have worked non-stop, dealing with an overflow of the wounded.

Dr Sutopo Nugroho from the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said almost all residents in high-risk quake-hit areas have been moved to safe zones. He expects those now in government shelters to be staying for some time, considering the scale of the damage to their homes in Aceh.

"This is where volunteers can play a part to care for the displaced," he said. "Some of them need trauma healing, so volunteers are most welcome; we still need more volunteers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta to help fund quick rebuilding'. Print Edition | Subscribe