July 15, 2005

Indonesia tsunami aid blockages fixed-UN

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Friday
international aid was flowing smoothly to tsunami-hit areas of
Aceh, denying reports of large numbers of containers
languishing on Indonesian wharfs.

Michael Whiting of the UN Joint Logistics Center in Aceh,
on the northern tip of Sumatra island, said early blockages
were largely due to the inexperience of many non-government aid
groups that flocked to the region after the Dec. 26 disaster.

"It's well within manageable proportions now," Whiting

"Everyone has been extremely cooperative and we are all
focused on the same thing. Get the stuff to the people who need
it as quickly as we can," he told Reuters.

The international community has pledged billions of dollars
in aid to tsunami-hit regions around the Indian Ocean, with the
lion's share going to Indonesia.

Some media reports in recent weeks have pointed to hold ups
in aid delivery.

The elimination of red tape and the prevention of
corruption has been a major concern for donors in the world's
fourth most populous nation.

Whiting, responsible for aid logistics in Sumatra, said
that in April a backlog of some 1,500 containers had built up
on the docks at Medan's main Belawan port, but that as of July
12 there were only 300 containers of aid, half of which had
been there for only a week.

"Everyone was pointing the finger at the Indonesian
government," Whiting said of the earlier backlog.

"In fact, when I looked into it, they'd done everything
they could to make it work and it pointed more to the lack of
logistic capacity in the NGO community. They didn't know what a
bill of lading was and so on."

At the height of the emergency relief effort, there were
more than 180 non-government aid groups operating in the
isolated Indonesian province.

In Aceh's provincial capital Banda Aceh, the man who leads
the reconstruction of tsunami-hit areas told reporters the
government should also take the blame for aid distribution

"The bureaucracy is too complicated and the central
government's sense of emergency or sense of crisis is little.
We have received many reports on fundings, but it hasn't
arrived here yet," said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.

On Friday, he received a list of reconstruction projects
approved by parliament worth almost 4 trillion rupiah ($430

The approved government budget for rehabilitation of
tsunami-hit areas is at 8.4 trillion rupiah ($900 million) for
2005. The remaining 4.4 trillion rupiah for 2005 will be
funneled through government ministries, the reconstruction body