Water Tower Demolition in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

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Controlled Demo to take down tallest tower in Banda Aceh, Indonesia - Debris to be used for rebuilding


Disaster Recovery

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The tallest non-religious building in Banda Aceh was brought down in a controlled demolition. The 45-year old water tower heavily damaged by the tsunami, which stands like a local Tower of Pisa with a pie on top, is a hazard to people and buildings around it. The heavy concrete debris from this famous local landmark, which was damaged in the earthquake and tsunami nearly a year ago, will be scooped up and used to rebuild essential feeder roads, including one leading to the new Ulee Lhu port which opened earlier this month.

Since the tsunami, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has provided assistance to the local authorities in Aceh for demolition services to take down private and public buildings that were partially destroyed. The aim is to remove damaged buildings in order to make room for reconstruction of new buildings and homes, using the valuable refuse for the rebuilding. Nearly 70 public establishments to date in Aceh have been dismantled, including schools, hotels, and government offices. The scrap steel is sold and the funds are put back into the project. The bricks, concrete, wood, and other debris are used for land-fill, road construction, new homes and public buildings.

The defunct water tower stands 36-metres high, approximately the height of a 12-story building. "This white elephant of a structure has the potential for providing enough concrete and rubble to restore several kilometers of road," says Tim Walsh, head of the UN Development Programme's tsunami waste management operation in Aceh. "This tower is far more use to the community as recycled building material than it is as a standing hazard that could collapse in another earthquake. The earthquake and tsunami caused the reinforcing steel to buckle. The community can be safer and put that steel to good use," says Mr. Walsh.

With a kindergarten across the street from the tower, pulling down the massive structure must be done with care. Dinas Kebershihan, which is the local Sanitation Department, called in one of the leading experts in industrial dismantling, whose 40-year career in the demolition industry has encompassed more than 4,200 projects around the world. Donald J. Schulick, General Superintendent for Industrial Dismantling, at Controlled Demolition Inc. says, "The removal of the tower will be closely monitored so that it is removed in a safe manner. The removal process could take several weeks or longer."

"The mayor decided to demolish the tower so the community will be safe. The material from the tower will be used for important rebuilding work," says Sai Fuddin, Head of the local Sanitation Department, Dinas Kebershihan.

This demolition work is part of a larger UNDP's Tsunami Waste Management programme, which has provided employment to more than 1,300 people. Recovered materials are sorted for recycling. So far, this tsunami waste recycling operation has cleared more than 160,000 m3 of tsunami-generated waste, enough to fill three football fields that are piled 10 meters high in debris

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See also

Knowledge communities and the tsunami response - Experience from the Crisis Prevention and Recovery Community of the UNDP

Working with Communities to Meet Water and Sanitation Needs Sustainably in the Recovery of Selected Tsunami Affected Countries, Thailand

Rebuilding life after the Tsunami, Sri Lanka

Rebuilding life after the Tsunami, Sri Lanka/Map

External Resources


Indonesia Relief Press Release September 2005)

Tsunami Waste Management Programme


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