Engineers’ strike hits reconstruciton

- SUDIP KAINI, ANISH TIWARI, GORKHA/SINDHUPALCHOK

Dec 9, 2016-

Reconstruction works in 14 earthquake-hit districts have been affected due to the strike by the technical staff. 

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has hired 2,700 engineers, sub-engineers and overseers to supervise the rebuilding of homes that were destroyed by the earthquakes of 2015.

In Gorkha, 190 engineers have halted their works since last week. 

Engineer Sanjib Amgai said they decided to go on a strike because the NRA did not make any efforts to fulfil their demands, including allowance and transportation service. “We have to work in the remote villages. We cannot work with the salary we are getting,” said Amgai. 

 In Sindhupalchok, 253 engineers have warned of quitting if the NRA does not cooperate with them. 

Bikash Neupane, the engineer assigned to Phulpingdanda village, said they have given the NRA one week to address their demands. “We were forced protest because the government did not pay attention to our demands,” he said. 

The engineers mobilised in Sindhupalchok have left their assigned villages after submitting a memorandum of their demands to the Urban Development Division Office. 

Tanka Gautam, the acting chief of division office, said the engineers’ protest has slowed down the reconstruction works in the district. 

“The reconstruction works will be delayed if the situation continues,” he said. 

In Ramechhap, the engineers have gathered at Manthali, the district headquarters, to press their demands. 

Around 200 engineers are mobilised in the district. 

In Dolakha, reconstruction works have come to a halt after the engineers left their assigned villages. They picketed the NRA office at the district headquarters on Thursday.

Rajib Shahi, an earthquake victim from Ganesh Tol, said they were unable to continue rebuilding their homes without engineers’ guidance.

“It’s time to receive the second instalment of housing reconstruction aid and we are not going to get it without the engineers’ recommendation,” he said.

 

NRA says preparations are afoot to address demands

POST REPORT

KATHMANDU, DEC 8

The National Reconstruction Authority has asked the protesting engineers to wait for a few more days, saying that preparations are underway to address their demands for incentives and other facilities.

On October 26, the NRA Directive Committee, headed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, had decided to provide performance-based incentives to the technical officers by up to 75 percent of their salary. The decision has not been implemented as the NRA is yet to decide the process and system for distribution of incentives.

NRA Spokesman Ram Prasad Thapaliya said that the authority was preparing eligibility criteria to provide incentives. 

“We have already sought the budget from the Finance Ministry for allowance and insurance coverage,” he said, urging the agitating party to resume the reconstruction work.

According to the NRA, reconstruction of only 8,333 houses has completed so far while 16,184 houses are still under construction. A total of 755, 549 homes were either completely destroyed or partially damaged by the 2015 earthquakes. About 94 percent of the quake victims, who had signed housing reconstruction aid agreements, have received the first instalment of the aid (Rs 50,000 each). 

The NRA said that it has received Rs 28 billion from the Finance Ministry to run the second phase of aid distribution programme. The quake-affected families will get Rs 150,000 each as the second portion of the aid.   

Although most of the quake victims have received the first instalment of the aid, the NRA cannot guarantee that they will immediately receive the second tranche of the aid. The homes that are under construction must meet the specifications set by the government for their owners to be eligible to receive the second batch of the aid, Thapaliya said.

Published: 09-12-2016 09:14

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