Mayor of Kingston Highlights Importance of Building Act

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Government Senator and Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Delroy Williams, makes his contribution to the Building Bill today (December 8) in the Senate.

Story Highlights

  • Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, says the Building Act 2017 is a major step for the country as it supports a resilient infrastructure and disaster risk reduction measures.
  • Supporting the Prime Minister’s stance that climate change is one of the greatest threats to the region, Senator Williams said the “existing structure is not consistent with effective regulations and the maturing of a modern building sector”.
  • He said the legislative framework that the Building Act provides is essential to minimise exposure to the country’s built environment, ensure public safety and welfare, ensure the rights of persons with disabilities regarding accessibility and safety, minimise damage caused by man-made and natural hazards, prevent squatter settlements, and promote sustainable development.

Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, says the Building Act 2017 is a major step for the country as it supports a resilient infrastructure and disaster risk reduction measures.

“It seeks to protect health, safety and welfare and to make Jamaica resilient to natural disasters,” he said while making his contribution to the debate on the Building Bill in the Senate on December 8.

Senator Williams added that it seeks to fashion new provisions for the building industry, noting that the current legal substructure for the sector can be categorised as “outdated”.

Supporting the Prime Minister’s stance that climate change is one of the greatest threats to the region, Senator Williams said the “existing structure is not consistent with effective regulations and the maturing of a modern building sector”.

He pointed out that between 2001 and 2016, more than 15 major disasters affected Jamaica, impacting more than two million persons and resulting in nearly $2 billion in property losses.

Senator Williams added that in the 2017 Hurricane Season, which ended on November 30, the region was threatened by 16 disasters, with 10 categorised as either hurricanes or major hurricanes.

He said the legislative framework that the Building Act provides is essential to minimise exposure to the country’s built environment, ensure public safety and welfare, ensure the rights of persons with disabilities regarding accessibility and safety, minimise damage caused by man-made and natural hazards, prevent squatter settlements, and promote sustainable development.

The Government Senator said the Bill creates an efficient structure for issuing permits and certificates of occupancy; it establishes a fair system for the resolution of building disputes and regulates training and certification standards.

“It specifies the regulatory and enforcement responsibilities of the local authorities and facilitates the adoption and efficient application of international building standards… and the national building codes,” he said.

Regarding the functions of each local authority in the maintenance, documentation and monitoring of files, which is outlined in Section 8 (d) of the Bill, Senator Williams said “this is a giant step”.

“The new Act introduces building codes and facilitates the adoption of international codes. The building codes are made up of provisions that must be observed in the design, construction and maintenance of the buildings and are amongst the first line of defence against damage from natural disasters,” he noted.

“It is these provisions that save lives, limit physical damage and make structures critical to human welfare, such as hospitals, shelters, fire and police stations, operational during a natural hazard or disaster,” the Mayor said.

The Building Bill seeks to establish a modern legislative framework that will serve to reduce the vulnerability of Jamaica’s built environment and ensure public safety.

It also serves to repeal the Kingston and St. Andrew and Parish Council Building Acts and will create and maintain standards for the construction and maintenance of physical structures.

The Bill 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.

It also streamlines the permit application system to eliminate unnecessary referrals and expedite responses; facilitate the introduction of special express services; and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities regarding accessibility, safety and user-friendliness.

Debate on the Bill will continue.

The legislation was passed with 24 amendments in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

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