01/04/2006, 00.00
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Labour shortage for Aceh-Nias reconstruction

The alarm was raised by the head of a government agency for post-tsunami programmes. But he has been accused of not employing local people for works.

Banda Aceh (AsiaNews) – Manpower for post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh and Nias in Indonesia is lacking, says Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) in the area. He said the vast reconstruction programme undertaken by the BRR in Aceh needed thousands of workers to set up the 78,000 homes planned for victims of the seaquake. During a public meeting last week in Banda Aceh, Kuntoro asked: "Please give me the names of job seekers in the building sector: I urgently need their contribution."

He added that he would not hesitate to transfer human resources from Java if he could not find them in Aceh. Residents of Aceh are reportedly reluctant to do this type of work, while Java is known for its ample availability of low-cost labour in the construction sector.

The appeal of Kuntoro – who is former Energy Minister – comes after the local population accused of the BRR of Aceh-Nias of not offering enough employment opportunities to Acehnese within the reconstruction programme. Responding to criticism, which has been leveled by NGOs too, the BRR opened an SMS service to receive the people's complaints. The Aceh province was the hardest hit by the tsunami on 26 December 2004 with more than 130,000 dead or missing.

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