-Only 6 percent able to begin rebuilding homes
-At least 200,000 masons need to be trained
-Only 5,000 trained during last year
KATHMANDU, Jan 30: Top officials at the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) have said that the NRA's failure to hold trainings for masons and produce new masons while at the same time carrying out surveys for identifying the earthquake victims has led to a serious shortage of masons in the 14 worst quake-affected districts, further delaying the overall task of reconstruction.
In lack of construction workers, barely six percent of the total 459,887 earthquake victims receiving the first tranche of reconstruction grant in the 14 most-affected districts have started rebuilding their houses so far.
"The sole reason is lack of construction workers, let alone trained construction workers," said spokesperson at the NRA Yam Lal Bhusal.
In the last one year, the NRA trained only 5,000 new masons although it had estimated that at least 200,000 trained masons would be needed in the 14 districts. And many of the masons have already left for work opportunities in the cities or abroad, according to the NRA.
"For instance, the NRA trained 20 new masons in Kalati Bhumidanda village, Kavre district last year but now only four of them are left in the village. As a result, local earthquake victims have been unable to begin constructing their houses even though they have the money. And those who have begun construction have been forced to rely on untrained workers," said a highly placed source at the NRA speaking anonymously.
Similarly, in Gorsang VDC of Nuwakot district, 140 houses need to be reconstructed but only 60 trained masons are available. "So, only a few of the households have begun rebuilding their houses. Due to lack of adequate human resources, the wages for construction workers have gone up lately," Kapil Sharma, an engineer deployed by the government to facilitate earthquake-resilient construction in Nuwakot, told Republica on the phone.
He said that workers who used to take Rs 700 to 800 per day have been taking Rs 1,000 per day lately.
Spokesperson Bhusal said that the failure on the part of the previous leadership of the NRA to train masons before identifying eligible victims and distributing the first tranche grants has led to the serious construction manpower shortage in the districts.
"Had the previous leadership trained a sufficient number of masons beforehand, a large number of quake victims would not still be waiting to begin construction work even after receiving the first tranche of Rs 50,000," he said.
The NRA official who did not want to be named said that failure to produce masons beforehand is likely to further delay the reconstruction. "A 50-day training should be given to new masons. Similarly, a week-long training should be given to the untrained masons.
And before beginning the training, we also need to give training to the trainers. So, the whole process is likely to consume much time now and it is going to delay the reconstruction work," the official added.