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Story Highlights

  • Block makers across the island are to benefit from free training being offered by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) to improve standards and compliance within the industry.
  • The training is part of the block makers sensitisation series, which was launched during a ceremony at the BSJ’s Winchester Road offices in St. Andrew on Tuesday (May 30).
  • President, Block Makers Association of Jamaica, Delroy Christie, welcomed the initiative, noting that it will serve to restore and maintain the integrity of the industry.

Block makers across the island are to benefit from free training being offered by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) to improve standards and compliance within the industry.

The BSJ is partnering with the HEART Trust/NTA to stage the sessions from June 6 to 21 at the training entity’s facilities in Manchester, Westmoreland, St. James, St. Mary, Kingston and St. Catherine.

The training is part of the block makers sensitisation series, which was launched during a ceremony at the BSJ’s Winchester Road offices in St. Andrew on Tuesday (May 30).

Other partners in the initiative are the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA), which is the regulatory arm of the BSJ; the Block Makers Association of Jamaica, and Caribbean Cement Company.

Speaking at the launch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NCRA, Lorice Edwards Brown, noted that non-compliance, in terms of approved standards, and unregulated block makers are major issues in the industry.

She noted that as at May 25 this year, 384 block makers were in the NCRA’s database and only 128 were registered and compliant with the required standards.

The NCRA CEO said the initiative will, therefore, assist the authority in its work to regulate block makers and ensure that blocks manufactured are safe.

In addition to seizing and destroying defective blocks, Mrs. Edwards Brown informed that the NRCA has been sending out warning letters to all non-compliant entities “to let them know the standards they are required to be compliant with and also

She added that there is also a process to be followed, “which will end up taking persons to court if we have to”.

For his part, Director, Human Resource Management and Development, BSJ, Maurice Lewin, said through the undertaking, the agency is aiming to turn around the 83 per cent non-conformity rate in the industry and move towards 100 per cent compliance.

Pointing to the benefits of the initiative to block makers, Mr. Lewin said the participants will be able to access training and certification, which will enhance their competence.

“Having now developed the competence to make blocks that pass (inspection) and you are able to register, you have now increased your ability to be competitive, which means you have opened up yourself to be able to sell blocks, not only in the hidden quarters of the community that you are operating… , you are now able to ply your trade in an open way and increase your market access,” he pointed out.

He noted further that block makers will be able to increase their clientele, and secure a greater dollar value for their product.

President, Block Makers Association of Jamaica, Delroy Christie, welcomed the initiative, noting that it will serve to restore and maintain the integrity of the industry.

He lamented that there has been a proliferation of new block makers in recent years, who are mainly concerned with “eating a food”, know little about technical competence, and have no concept of block-making standards.

“We are advocating that when this initiative is rolled out fully, JH 35 (the standard for block-making) will be updated to make technical competence a requirement for registration to become a block maker. In effect, to register a block-making company, they must be able to have on board a permanent staff member, who would be certified by HEART Trust/NTA or have equivalent competence,” he said.

He stressed that the block making industry must insist on minimum competence to preserve its integrity, noting that the devastation caused by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti “is a tragic example of what happens when we ignore standards. We cannot afford to; the life we save may be our own”.

The public is being encouraged to only purchase blocks from companies that are registered with the BSJ, or from hardware stores and other entities that can confirm that their blocks were acquired from registered block makers.