4 Feb 2014

Tonga requests more international help for damaged housing

4:27 pm on 4 February 2014

The Tongan government is requesting more international funding to help pay for the growing costs associated with replacing housing in cyclone-hit Ha'apai.

The deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, says the estimated costs to replace the 800 badly damaged houses is about 30 million US dollars.

But he says the World Bank has advised that even houses with minor damage should be upgraded to become cyclone resistant, which could push up that figure significantly.

Mr Vaipulu says it is likely home owners will not have to pay to fix their houses, but will have to help with rebuilding them.

"In 1982 we had a cyclone and we wanted the people to pay some money into the housing. What ended up was the people that most needed the houses didn't get it because they didn't have the money. So what we are trying to do now, this time, is to have the community help in the reconstruction instead of trying to pay."

Samiu Vaipulu says government help to pay for damaged buildings, such as businesses and churches, will be approved on a case-by-case basis.