Tuesday February 8, 2005

Malaysia offers master plan to rebuild
Indonesia's tsunami-hit Banda Aceh

KUALA LUMPUR, (AFP) - Malaysia will draw up a master plan for rebuilding Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Banda Aceh which could include relocating the city on higher ground, constructing 120,000 new homes and building a breakwater to prevent a repeat of the disaster.
A team of Malaysian town planners, engineers, architects and quantity surveyors flew in to Banda Aceh at the weekend to follow up an offer made by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
They were visited Monday by a delegation of Malaysian ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, accompanied by a Malaysia-based correspondent for AFP.
"We can either use the existing location, build further inland or move to higher ground, but it all depends on the Indonesian government," Najib said during the one-day trip.
Malaysian planners would draw on their experience in developing the country's impressive new administrative capital of Putrajaya, which was built from scratch in an area formerly covered in palmoil plantations.
A concept for the rebuilding could be ready in a month and a master plan in three months, Najib said.
Malaysia would propose building 120,000 homes and "a very large" breakwater off the coast of Aceh to prevent damage by any future tsunamis, Works Minister Samy Vellu, who accompanied Najib on the visit, told reporters.
Samy Vellu has said the masterplan would initially contain the city's administration and commercial centre, industrial sites and housing estates.
Asked whether Malaysian companies would be involved in the construction work, he replied: "It is too early to say, but once we are deeply involved, our participation in the building and planning will be continuous."
Najib said the "final shape (of the new Banda Aceh) will take into consideration the requirements of the Indonesian government and people, in terms of its architecture and philosophy. It will be based on Acehnese historical and cultural values.
"We have the capability because we have developed Putrajaya which was based on the requirements of Malaysians." Putrajaya's architecture combines elements of modern western design with strong Islamic influences.
The Indonesian president said in remarks published in Jakarta Tuesday that a blueprint to rebuild Aceh province would preserve its legacy as the entry point for Islam into the archipelago, which has earned it the nickname the "Veranda of Mecca."
"(The blueprint) should not do away with Aceh's special characteristic, that of Aceh as a center for Islam. The term 'Veranda of Mecca' should also not disappear at all, the eastern values and Acehnese customs should not be uprooted," Yudhoyono told the Republika daily.
The killer tsunamis caused widespread destruction in Aceh, wiping out many coastal villages and leaving more than 240,000 people dead or missing, and some 400,000 homeless.
Najib said the cost of the project was unknown. "It all depends on the concept, the scope and the requirements. I would hate to put a figure on it at this stage."
Funding would be discussed with multilateral financing institutions, he said.
Malaysia has already provided aid to Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami, including a disaster relief centre for 2,000 victims in Jantho, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Banda Aceh.
"We are also in the process of discussing the construction of temporary homes in Jantho," Najib said.
Another relief centre would soon be built in Lhoong, another area on the west coast that suffered severe damage, he said.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"