Building Bill will Improve Earthquake Preparedness – Thorpe

Photo: Melroy Sterling Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Denzil Thorpe, addresses an earthquake awareness press conference yesterday (January 9) at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) Haining Road offices in St. Andrew.

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Denzil Thorpe, says passage of the Building Bill puts Jamaica in the best position to prepare for earthquakes.
  • Mr. Thorpe said the legislation seeks to address, among other things, the certification and registration of builders.
  • The Building Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives in 2016.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Denzil Thorpe, says passage of the Building Bill will put Jamaica in the best position to prepare for earthquakes.

He was speaking at the launch of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) earthquake awareness campaign held at the agency’s Haining Road offices yesterday (January 9).

The Building Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives in 2016.

Mr. Thorpe said the legislation seeks to address, among other things, the certification and registration of builders.

It also provides for the establishment of the National Building Code, and identifies the Bureau of Standards Jamaica as the agency that will set the acceptable local and international standards for construction.

In addition, the legislation establishes that the municipal corporations are to be the local building authorities and will be responsible for inspecting, certifying and taking the actions necessary to approve new structures, change existing buildings, or destroy dangerous structures.

“Sections 21 to 23 address the rights of persons who live beside or near to a place where building work is to happen, or has started, to submit an objection to the local authority (which) may in turn, have public or private hearings to determine whether the work will adversely affect any person or people in that area,” Mr. Thorpe noted.

He said the Government recognises that unplanned, illegal occupancy of public and private land, as well as the unauthorised expansion of legitimately occupied spaces, is counter to the development needs of the country.

“This will negatively affect the very people who carry out these activities,” Mr. Thorpe noted further.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary is urging Jamaicans to develop a culture of earthquake awareness, and to “accept their personal responsibility to desist from things that will undermine and ruin a community’s health and safety”.

“Let us resolve, today, that we will live the theme for Earthquake Awareness 2017… not just to ‘Drop. Cover. Hold…,’ but to recognise that ‘earthquake readiness is within our control’,” Mr. Thorpe said.

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