18 november 2006
Netherlands Railways builds for tsunami-hit colleagues
Rinus Vader was the leader of the renovation project, that now officially has come to an end. "Dutch personnel collected some 700,000 Euro. We contacted the Sri Lanka Railways to ask what they needed. They indicated that apart from damaged railway sleepers and station buildings, many of their employees, who used to live along the railway between Colombo and Galle, had lost their homes."
Together with the Dutch NGO Terre des Hommes, the Netherlands Railways made a plan, consisting of building houses and a railway station, restarting a factory for concrete sleepers, and creating a one year pension for widows of wage workers.
Rinus Vader: "As a railway company we have no experience in building houses in a distant country, so we decided to ask Terre des Hommes for their cooperation. This NGO has been working in the region for a long time, not only in emergency relief, but also in reconstruction. Together with the Small Fishers Federation Lanka they have also been building houses, so they seemed experienced enough." Terre des Hommes contributed to the management of the project and donated about one third of the construction costs.
It took a while to construct the houses, due to difficulties in finding the right locations. Immediately after the tsunami the Sri Lankan government declared a buffer zone of one hundred meters along the coast, in which construction is prohibited. In many cases houses had to be constructed on newly acquired land. To stimulate the economy, the houses are built by local employees, using only local construction materials.
The factory for concrete sleepers has been renovated and machinery has been ordered, so production will restart in January. The Netherlands Railways has also designed a disaster management system for Sri Lanka Railways.
P+ Webtip: Terre des Hommes / NS