Six years on, communities struggle to start projects worth nearly $5bn
The Nikkei compiled government survey data and determined that — six years after an earthquake and tsunami ripped through the region — reconstruction projects worth 534.6 billion yen ($4.85 billion) have not started, in the absence of contracts for them. That equates to 19% of all allocations for rebuilding in three prefectures: Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
What is the holdup? Part of the problem is the difficulty of building a consensus in affected communities. Other factors include a shortage of labor and the complex task of coordinating multiple construction projects that all need to move at once.
The March 2011 disaster, which claimed nearly 20,000 lives, destroyed a staggering number of homes along with critical infrastructure.The central, prefectural and municipal governments that launched reconstruction projects at the same time are still struggling with “traffic control” issues.
For municipal governments like that of Kesennuma, the workload has soared.
The Kesennuma city office has a general-account budget of some 100 billion yen for fiscal 2017, up from around 30 billion yen before the disaster. At one point after the disaster, the budget hit 200 billion yen. The number of government workers, though, has remained almost unchanged. Each staff member is saddled with three to six times more work.
This also explains the project delays.
Then there is that matter of consensus-building:[…]