Australia will provide more than $2.5 million to fund the critical restoration of the Ulee Lheu port in Banda Aceh, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Bruce Billson, announced today during a visit to Aceh.
'The Banda Aceh port project has been identified by the Aceh Reconstruction Authority as the highest priority in the reconstruction process and is an important part of Australia's assistance package to Indonesia for emergency relief and reconstruction,' Mr Billson said.
'There is an urgent need to re-establish the port, which prior to the tsunami was a major transport and freight hub, as well as a wharf for passenger ferry services.
'The livelihoods of people in Aceh and the capacity to rebuild depend on this port and the Australian Government is committed to helping those that have suffered and lost so much after the Boxing Day tragedy.
'The only functioning wharf near Banda Aceh is now 30 minutes from the capital at Malahayati and the urgency for additional port facilities is increasing as more reconstruction material is brought in to tsunami affected areas.
'The section of the coast near the port took the brunt of the tsunami and the terminal building, the floating passenger ferry terminal and access to port facilities were destroyed.
'Australian Government assistance aims to restore access to the site and port operations. The main access road will be rebuilt, reinforced with large rubble from the tsunami clean up, and debris will be removed from the harbour to clear the way for passenger ferries to resume services.
'This contribution to help Aceh recover is part of the initial $33 million Australia has committed to help Indonesia respond to the tsunami,' Mr Billson said.
Leading an eight member Parliamentary Delegation, Mr Billson has inspected earthquake-affected areas of central Banda Aceh, met with Australian aid workers and visited an Australian-funded aid project. The delegation also met the Director of the Aceh and North Sumatra Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Executing Agency, Mr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.
Media inquiries: Shane Fairlie
(Mr Billson's office) 0408 680 442
AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 59