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Quake-hit schools in Battagram yet to be rebuilt

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An incomplete school building in Battagram. — Dawn
An incomplete school building in Battagram. — Dawn

BATTAGRAM: Most of the school buildings destroyed or damaged in the October 2005 earthquake in Battagram district are yet to be rebuilt.

There are numbers of schools that have been partially constructed and the work on some of the others is still at the initial stage mainly due to lack of funds and escalation in the construction cost. Due to this, children have to sit in the open to get education.

Reconstruction of government boys high school, Rashang Allai, is not yet complete. Work on the building was started in 2007, but the contractor left the work halfway, citing shortage of funds.

Noor, a teacher of the school, told Dawn that after the building got damaged in the earthquake, the strength of students was reduced to 150. He said the number could further drop if the school was not reconstructed.

Khairul Mukhtyar, a social worker from Rashang, Allai, said the successive governments had failed to rebuild the damaged schools. He added that they had approached the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) and the contractor concerned many times for early completion of the building, but to no avail.

Zakirullah Yousafzai, a local resident, lamented that political leaders also remained silent on the issue.

When contacted, district education officer Riaz Khan Swati told Dawn that the education department had requested Erra to ensure completion of under-construction school buildings without delay.

Erra’s programme manager Mohammad Hassan Ali Khan said the authority was not to be blamed as work on the schools was halted due to funds shortage. He 2010 floods had slowed down work on reconstruction of schools as major portion of funds went to rehabilitating flood-hit people. “Due to lack of funding, we spent money on the projects which were in an advanced stage of reconstruction,” Khan said.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2016