Nepal Pledges to Rebuild Schools and Roads Within Two Years of Quake

By REUTERS. MAY 9th, 2015

KATHMANDU — Nepal’s prime minister pledged on Friday to repair public buildings, schools and infrastructure within two years of the 7.8 earthquake that struck the country last month.

“The government will reconstruct damaged public buildings, roads, schools, hospitals, telecom facilities, power houses, and colleges in two years,” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said in an address to parliament.

He also said the government would provide loans of up to $25,000 (16,166 pounds) at an interest rate of 2 percent for the reconstruction of private homes.

The announcement comes after the country’s worst earthquake in more than 80 years, shortly before noon on April 25.

At least 7,903 people were killed, nearly 18,000 injured, and more than 541,000 buildings damaged.

The government said the cost of the first phase of reconstruction would be $2 billion and it had set aside $200 million towards that.

For the balance, the government has appealed for donations from foreign countries, aid agencies and Nepali people themselves.

Koirala said authorities would prepare estimates of the full cost of reconstruction once the extent of the damage has been ascertained. Nepal is planning to convene a donors’ meeting shortly to request aid for reconstruction.

On Friday, aid groups were still trying to reach many remote communities with relief supplies by air and by road to ensure food and shelter as the yearly monsoon approached.

Authorities will provide temporary shelter in public buildings to people who do not want to return to their homes, the prime minister said. Religious and historic sites and monuments will be rebuilt in the next five years.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Writing by Krista Mahr; Editing by Andrew Roche)