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Home >> China
UPDATED: 08:49, December 15, 2005
Chinese, Sri Lankans build houses together for tsunami survivors
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Under the tropical sunlight, Chinese construction worker Zheng Yongzhi was building steps for a nearly completed house in Kurundu Watta, the site of the China-Sri Lanka Friendship Village project aimed at providing permanent houses for Sri Lanka's tsunami survivors.

As the first anniversary of last December's tsunami approaches, Zheng Yongzhi, as well as his Chinese and Sri Lankan colleagues spend more time on the construction site, which is about 10 km east of Galle and 120 km south of the Capital Colombo.

"We are determined to complete the construction of at least 70 houses before Dec. 20," said project manager Zhang Yaozheng from Sinahydro Corporation, which is the contractor of the project.

The project, funded by China Charity Federation, is aimed at providing tsunami victims with 150 houses which are scheduled to be completed by March 2006.

The project also includes the building of a stadium, a multi- function hall and a nursery school for the villagers.

By Wednesday, walls of about 120 houses and roofs of more than 80 have been completed, making the project site look like a beautiful village.

"It is not a easy job," said Yin Jianming, deputy manager of the project.

Yin said there were three hills in the construction site when they first arrived here in July.

"To make the construction possible, we must first cut all the palm trees and level the ground," said Yin.

Project manager Zhang said they encountered a lot of difficulties in the building process.

One of the major problems was the designing standard. Because Sri Lanka has quite a different climate and geological condition, the Chinese engineer has to decide which kind of standards to follow, said Zhang.

"Usually there are no earthquake, no typhoon in Sri Lanka and the difference in temperature is very small. We have to follow a very different construction rule here," said Zhang.

Zhang said another major problem is the lack of skilled workers. To speed the construction, Zhang invited 10 Chinese construction workers like Zheng to work for the project.

"The Chinese workers are very skillful. They work side by side with Sri Lankan workers and they can also learn from each other," said Zhang.

Zhang said the managing team and all the Chinese workers worked seven days a week. Being influenced by their Chinese colleagues, some Sri Lankan workers also come to work on the weekends and public holidays.

"I like to work with Chinese friends. I have learnt a lot from them," said the 24-year-old Nissanka Wijabandaya, who had been working with Chinese workers for more than two months.

Zhang said the Sri Lankan government provided the 80,000 square meters land for the project, and also facilitated water and power supply.

"We cooperated very well with the central and local governments, " said Zhang.

Zhang said his company would commence the construction of another three new villages for Sri Lanka's tsunami survivors very soon, bringing the total new homes built by the company to about 500.

"We are not expecting to make profit from the projects. We are happy that we can offer help for the tsunami survivors," said Chang.

The Sri Lankan government said 70,637 houses were completely destroyed in the tsunami, while 30,839 houses were partially damaged.

Families whose houses were located beyond the buffer zone are being provided with grants up to 2,500 US dollars to rebuild their homes and 52,903 households have taken up this offer.

Families whose houses existed within the buffer zone are not entitled to rebuild on their land, and the government in conjunction with various donors has taken on the responsibility of providing such families with a sponsored plot of land.

The government said funding had been pledged by donors for over 39,000 new homes, and 15,000 houses are to be handed over by year end.

However, providing houses for the tsunami survivors would be a time consuming process considering that aspects of safety, quality and transparency need to be ensured, said the government.

Source: Xinhua

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