Pandora Box of Aceh Reconstruction

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Artikel terkait: Hibah Beracun dari Bakrie

By: Dewa Gumay

WHEN we look closer to the rehabilitation and reconstruction process in Aceh, we will find that the whole process today shows far less rationalism, and the worst is, it tends to be hypocrite. The institution that holds the biggest responsibility in Aceh reconstruction process, BRR Aceh-Nias apparently acts similarly to the other reconstruction actors. An institution that ideally act as the catalyst and dynamics agents in terms of policy and implementations, is paralyzed when the tsunami victims are still barely needing their hand to act against the misled reconstruction actors

The message of “Build Back Better” introduced by BRR Aceh-Nias is proven to be hypocrit. It is merely a slogan without the soul, and among the victims are Deyah Rayah Community who lives in Syiah Kuala Sub District – Banda Aceh. 204 houses for tsunami victims built by Bakrie Foundation there use asbestos as their main construction materials for their walls and roofs.

What is Wrong with Asbestos?

Asbestos is the generic name of a group of highly fibrous minerals with separable, long, and thin fibers. Separated asbestos fibers are strong enough and flexible enough to be spun and woven. Based on its mineral composition, there are two main forms of asbestos — serpentine and amphiboles. Serpentine fibers are curly and pliable. Chrysotile is the only type of serpentine fiber and it is the most widely used form of asbestos. It is chrysotile minerals derives from silicate magnesium hydroxide with composition of Mg6(Oh)6(Si4O11) H2O. Amphiboles are thin, rod-like fibers of which there are 5 main types-crocidolite, amosite, anthrophylite, tremolite, and actinolyte. Even it is obvious that asbestos minerals comprise of complex silicates, there is difference in writing asbestos mineral composition. Initially it was pressumed that the silicate consists of Si11O12 mollecules, while based X-ray observation proved that silicates consist of Si4O11 molecules.

Some studies on the death cases due to asbestos exposures in the air that people breathe proved that 94% of asbestos used in the world contains Chrysotile or silicate magnesium hydroxide with the composition of Mg6(Oh)6(Si4O11)H2O, Chrysotile is mineral substances that possess Carcinogenic character that can trigger cancer diseases that might attack chest cavity, lung, and stomach. People are exposed to the substances when they inhale the air polluted by asbestos ashes. The usage of Asbestos have taken many lives away. An example is a case in Japan. Due to Asbestos exposures in the air, 500 people died in 1995. As the number increased to 878 people in 2003, the Government of Japan finally banned the usage of Asbestos.

Asbestos poisoning process does not take place in sudden. Chrysotile poison attacks human bodies accumulatively and Chrysotile infection triggers cancers in decades duration. When the victim inhales Asbestos ashes that contains Chrysotile continously, cancer will grow and lead him to the death.

BRR , The Opener of Pandora Box

Within the problem that we face now, however, we express our positive appreciation to the Housing and Settlement Deputy of BRR Aceh-Nias, Andy Siswanto, and the Head of Conservation and Environment Center, R. Pamekas, who have released a recommendation to ban the usage of Asbestos materials in the reconstruction of tsunami victims settlements, in BRR Aceh-Nias’internal memorandum.

R. Pamekas, – the Head of Conservation and Environment Center, in his memorandum, No. M-608/BRR.4.4/XII, dated on 29 December 2006 explained the danger of asbestos materials and chrysotiles used by Bakrie Foundations in housing development at Dayah Rayah village. Andy Siswanto as the Housing and Settlement Deputy of BRR Aceh-Nias responded the memorandum and provided more emphasizes on the issue by issuing another memorandum, No. M-010/BRR.08/I/2007, dated on 8 January 2007.

The two Memorandums issued by the two top level persons in BRR Aceh-Nias were the beginning of the “Pandora Box” opening – a box of death that threats hundreds of human’s life related to Asbestos materials usage. None is not afraid of “Pandora Box”term, and the fact is, this box of death has been opened by BRR Aceh-Nias.

Questionable BRR Policy

Will the problem be overcame after the release of the two memorandums? No, not yet. Even the problem is now getting more complicated, regarding on the fact that both memorandums are the policy that only applies internally in BRR body. It does not deal with the constituents and other reconstruction actors, thus this problem has not been overcame, or became a final decision. BRR Aceh-Nias has never initiated any follow up to the memorandum, to make it as an institutional decree that will have a power to regulate all parties working in housing scopes – local, national, or international parties.

Is Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the top leader BRR Aceh-Nias afraid of taking an action against Bakrie Foundation? This question always tempts us, since the owner of Bakrie Foundation is Aburizal Bakrie, a minister in SBY-JK cabinet. More fact about it is, the asbestos materials used to build tsunami victims houses in Deyah Raya village were produced in PT. Bakrie Groups’ factory. Intransparency performed by BRR Aceh-Nias in taking their decision and/or actions towards this problem raised a suspicion that Kuntoro Mangkusubroto is not courageous enough to stand against Bakrie.

Nevertheless, in the middle of people’s doubt and questions towards BRR’s competency and their slowgoing performance recently, it can actually make a good momentum to answer people’s doubts. Finally, the opened Pandora Box has been opened by BRR, therefore, they are supposed to be responsible to close it down with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto’s signature and a stamp from BRR Aceh-Nias, prior to their departure from Aceh in April 2009. – Finish-


2 responses to “Pandora Box of Aceh Reconstruction

  1. Very interesting article. I’m shocked that Asbestos is (was?) being used in the reconstruction process. What’s the situation at the moment? Did this matter get resolved?

  2. Reblogged this on landscapetsunami and commented:
    Asbestos as building material in reconstruction process

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