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Chaos hits British students providing tsunami aid in Sri Lanka

The tsunami relief work of a RIBA-backed building charity in Sri Lanka has been scuppered by intense local corruption and bureaucracy, it has emerged.

A group of seven third-year students from the University of Bath has returned to the UK in the past week with a litany of horror stories following their mission to assist the aid effort.

The students went to the Indian Ocean island with relief charity Build Aid between July and September to provide project-management skills for the tsunami-stricken city of Hikkaduwa.

But one student, Johnathon Gill-Little, who is now about to enter his fourth year, claimed that efforts to speed up the recovery effort are being hindered drastically by corrupt local contractors.

Gill-Little told the AJ: 'We didn't really know what we'd be doing when we got over there. We came across quite a few problems.

'For one we had a nightmare getting planning for the work we had been doing on a disabled home. We'd gone to all these considerable efforts to get planning and then for some reason the people who were managing the home didn't want it to happen in the end.'

He added: 'My advice for any charity planning to go out there is that you've got to have a lot of money and know exactly where that money is going to end up. For example we got ridiculous prices off contractors.

'We would get a range of prices from between $10,000 to $35,000 (£5,600 to £19,600) for the same job. We went over to help out with the effort and basically had to get on with finding our own feet, and that was extremely difficult.'

by Rob Sharp

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