ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 36
Kandy Times

Two years on, tsunami victims still suffer agony

By Premasiri Weerasinghe

It is reported that due to the lack of basic facilities in the temporary houses erected for tsunami victims, many of them are undergoing severe hardships in the Hambantota district.

Though the state had promised to construct 4,000 houses with aid provided by relief organisations, the tsunami victims of Hambantota, Tangalle and Ambalantota areas still lack basics amenities like water, toilet facilities, electricity and a proper road network, they claimed.

The group of shelters from above

Thousands of these victims lost their homes, lands and some even their family members, and subsequent to the disaster they were housed in alternate dwellings about a year ago but due to the absence of basic facilities they still undergo severe hardships even today after two years of the tragic incident.

The entrance to a temporary shelter.

While the access roads to these houses are in a dilapidated condition, the whole place becomes a muddy pool during the rains the victims say. As if the lack of other facilities is not enough, they also have to undergo difficulties due to the lack of school facility, postal and other administrative aspects as well. They need to travel long distances incurring heavy expenditure for transport, as no common transport facilities are available. Lack of public transport for thousands of residents here causes problems where the education of their children is concerned, not to mention the day to day activities of the elderly in the community.

Infants asleep inside the shelters

Absence of street lighting too is a grave problem, while funerals have to be carried a long distance due to lack of a cemetery in close proximity. Since there are no kitchens in the houses these folk do their cooking in an improvised kitchen. Some walls are already cracked while roofs show signs of crumbling. As houses are built on loose land and have no strong foundations, there is a danger of their sinking. Roofing with cheap tiles has already caused water seepage which threatens the dwellers.

Toilets too are erected sans the required specifications and the cesspits have started to overflow. Life as a whole has become a problem to these tsunami victims. They are aware that lot of money was doled out by various NGOs but the constructions are below par and sans any planning. In addition to man made difficulties, they are also ravaged by wild elephants after sunset. They were said to spend many a sleepless night with their children in their attempt to scare away the animals.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.