Quake evac­uees set­tle in to new life in Xigaze

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NYIMA and DAQIONG in Lhasa

Be­fore last year’s Nepal earth­quake, Phurbu Butri and her hus­band ran a guest­house with a restaurant in Dram, the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s big­gest border cross­ing.

Now they run a shop in a mall in Xigaze, Ti­bet’s sec­ond largest city, about 800 kilo­me­ters from home, and live in a set­tle­ment along with 505 house­holds re­lo­cated from ar­eas se­verely dam­aged af­ter the mag­ni­tude-8.1 earth­quake hit on April 25, 2015.

The fam­ily lived in a tent at first, then moved into a house, which they find safer, cleaner and more com­fort­able. The gov­ern­ment pro­vided each fam­ily with house­hold ap­pli­ances, and ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties, such as bed­ding, pots and pans.

“Be­fore we were moved to the new houses, we lived in tem­po­rary houses and tents for sev­eral months, and the lo­ca­tion was very dusty,” said Phurbu’s hus­band, Phurba. “They have pro­vided us free wa­ter, Wi-Fi ac­cess, and free pub­lic trans­porta­tion.”

The com­mu­nity is equipped with ser­vices such as pub­lic toi­lets, ATMs, banks, restau­rants, shops, a post of­fice and a hos­pi­tal, he said.

Data in­di­cate the city gov­ern­ment has spent 11.31 bil­lion yuan ($1.75 bil­lion) for re­con­struc­tion work in quake-af­fected ar­eas. The work in­cludes 15,957 res­i­den­tial houses and 163 vil­lage pub­lic sites.

The gov­ern­ment has pro­vided free bus ser­vice from the new sub­urb to the city. It takes about 20 min­utes for Phurbu, 49, to reach the shop in the Dram Shop­ping Mall, which was built ex­clu­sively for the evac­uees and pro­vided business op­por­tu­ni­ties for 146 house­holds.

They mostly sell im­ported prod­ucts and Nepalese hand­i­crafts, and prod­ucts such as In­dian rice, Nepali skin care prod­ucts, which have gained pop­u­lar­ity in Ti­bet.

“We do not need to pay rent, and stock­ing goods is more con­ve­nient since the Gyirong Port started full op­er­a­tion sev­eral months ago,” Phurba said.

In the last eight months, they been mak­ing an av­er­age monthly in­come of about 3,000 yuan, but ex­pects a boom with the ar­rival of the tourism sea­son. Xigaze re­ceived 3.2 mil­lion tourists last year, gen­er­at­ing rev­enue of 2.8 bil­lion yuan.

Be­sides the present business, the fam­ily has se­cured a shop in a newly built tourism ser­vice cen­ter in Xigaze. It also doesn’t re­quire rent for sev­eral years.

Phurba’s younger daugh­ter, Ge­sang Choe­dron, goes to a pri­mary school in Xigaze. She boards at school and re­turns home over the week­end, her ac­com­mo­da­tions and food cov­ered by the gov­ern­ment.

A fel­low vil­lager, Nyima Dorje, also has be­gun to make a new liv­ing in the set­tle­ment. Nyima Dorje has been work­ing on a con­struc­tion site for two months for a daily wage of 150 yuan, while his wife Ngak­wang Drolma gets 2,400 yuan monthly by work­ing at a hotel.

A Nepali Sherpa, Ngak­wang Drolma, 22, was brought up in Dram. She had big wor­ries about re­lo­cat­ing to a strange city, but has got­ten used to the place over time.

“With a job, I have some­thing to do, and I no longer worry much,” she said.

As a poverty al­le­vi­a­tion project, the Xigaze Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion Of­fice also will in­vest 1.55 mil­lion yuan ($240,000) to build a Sherpa style holiday vil­lage, a project that is ex­pected to pro­vide 12 jobs.

“As it is a Sherpa style leisure cen­ter, I think it will at­tract many peo­ple, and es­pe­cially tourists,” Phurba said.

Con­tact the writ­ers at palden@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tseyang works in a restaurant she opened soon af­ter her fam­ily was re­lo­cated from the quake-hit vil­lage in Dram to the down­town of Xigaze. Dawa Tser­ing and his wife Tse­chok take a walk in the neigh­bor­hood of tem­po­rary hous­ing pro­vided by lo­cal gov­ern­ment. They run a bar­beque stall at night in the neigh­bor­hood. Road con­struc­tion link­ing Din­gri county and quake-hit ar­eas close to the Gyirong port has been un­der way for months.

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