Indications of corruption in construction of Aceh barracks

Kompas – February 26, 2005
Barracks in Aceh to house refugees (Nusantara)
Barracks in Aceh to house refugees (Nusantara)

Banda Aceh – Entering its third month, indications of corruption in the handling of the disaster in Aceh are starting to be uncovered. On Friday February 25, the Aceh Working Group for Peace Without Corruption (Kelompok Kerja Aceh Damai Tanpa Korupsi, ADTK), a grouping of traditional social and anti-corruption activists in Aceh, suspect that corrupt practices have occurred in the construction of barracks for Acehnese refugees.

The indications of corruption were observed from the lack of government contractual documents with project organisers, the lack of clarity over the mechanisms for the purchase and use of land and a lack of standardisation in barracks construction.

These suspicions were raised by ADTK activists Bambang Antariksa and Akhiruddin Mahjuddin yesterday. “We will take the findings to the KPK (Commission for the Eradication of Corruption) and the Attorney General as soon as possible”, said Antariksa.

In response, the head of the Aceh Public Works Task Force, Totok Pri, explained that accusations of corruption are premature bearing in mind that up until yesterday not one cent has been disbursed for the constructing barracks, either from the government of foreign aid groups. He also said he was prepared to take responsibility for the quality of the construction work if it is questioned.

According to Antariksa, the construction of the barracks were clearly carried out without contractual documents between the government and the project organisers so that there was no standardisation of prices. “The project organisers could have purchase cheap timber, for example. But, in [their] final reports [they] could state that they used expensive timber. This has the potential for corruption”, he said. Construction work without contracts also violates Presidential Decree Number 8/2003 on the Procurement of Goods and Services.

The means in which land for the barracks was obtained is also unclear. Most of the land is owned by traditional land owners, such as a number of barracks in West Aceh. In addition to this, there is also land which had previously been used by the local population growing food such as Kembang Tanjung in the Pidie district of North Aceh.

Mahjuddin added that the size of the rooms also varied, ones which should measurer 4x5 metres actually measure 4x3 or 2x3 metres, such as in Pidie, Lhokseumawe and Bireuen.

At barracks in the Village of Baet, Lambada Lhok and Banda Aceh for example, although the rooms measure 4x3 metres the cement mix ratio, which should be 3 to 1 (three parts sand and one part cement) was in fact 4 to 1, such as in Bireuen and Samalanga. As a result cracks are appearing even before they have been used.

Both view the construction of the barracks as a waste of money. For example, in a proposal for the North Aceh regency, barracks to accommodate 20 families consumed 1.37 billion rupiah or 48.75 million per family. This money would have been better used to assist people to rebuild their homes.

No violations have occurred

Despite this, Pri denies that there has been any violations. On the question of project documentation for example, he said there were Work Commencement Orders (SPMK) and direct tender systems for state owned enterprises that carried out the projects. The SPMKs are regulated under Presidential Decree Number 80/2003. “So far the contractors themselves have paid for the residential projects. Not one rupiah has been issued. So what’s to corrupt?”.

Suspicion of corruption in the construction of barracks he said, may be because people had not looked at the procedures. Before a contractor can claim payment for the construction of a barracks, an audit is conducted beforehand by the Financial Examination Agency and the Financial and Construction Supervisory Agency. (ADP)

[Translated by James Balowski.]