Groningen quake repair coordinator steps down over government policy

Former Labour minister Hans Alders, who was given the job of overseeing the repair of earthquake damage in 2015 on behalf of the government, has resigned.

Alders was appointed to by the economic affairs ministry to oversee a programme of reinforcement for buildings damaged by earthquakes caused by gas extraction. Tens of thousands of buildings need shoring up because of the risk of damage.

In his resignation letter, Alders said that economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes’ decision not to shore up almost 1,600 houses, but instead to wait and see, was behind his resignation.

‘How can I restore trust if I cannot meet my promises,’ he said. ‘That means that my personal integrity is at stake.’

Wiebes said that he understood Alders’ reasoning and that the problems in Groningen have now reached a new phase. ‘This requires new relationships,’ Wiebes said.

Representatives of Groningen provincial authority, 10 local authorities and two action groups have now broken off talks with the minister because of his decision to delay repairs.

René Paas, king’s commissioner in Groningen, said the delay in decision-making was bad for confidence in the government if residents have to wait very long for promises to be fulfilled.


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