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The use of cement in Jamaica is one of the primary indicators of economic activity in the country and, along with the use of electricity, help to more accurately show this activity than other indicators.
This is according to Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who was giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE)/Caribbean Cement Company sponsored Concrete Innovations Conference 2009, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday (June 17).
“In modern times, in our economy, the use of cement is seen as one of the primary indicators of economic activity. In fact, because a large section of the economy is informal, it is very difficult to get the indicators normally used by the Department of Statistics. Therefore, we have to turn to the use of cement and the use of light and power, which are quite frankly better indicators of economic activity,” Dr. Chang said.
He contended that using the level of cement and other building materials purchased as a marker of economic activity is a good one, as everyone in Jamaica likes to build a house, even when the land is captured.
Dr. Chang thanked the sponsor for appropriately staging the conference at the beginning of the hurricane season, when persons are focussed on disaster preparedness, and pointed out that proper construction is one way to mitigate disaster.
While he commended the engineers on the good work they are doing in Jamaica, he also took time out to rib them on their ability to take simple items, such as sand, stone and water, and make them into complex things which very few people understand.
The Minister traced the use of concrete over the last 5,000 years, from the construction of the sphinxes and pyramids, to the use of the material by the Romans to create and maintain a world empire, as well as cement’s adoption by the British in their own world conquests.
The one-day concrete conference looked at the present and future uses of concrete. Presentations were made under two major themes: ‘Superior Quality Concrete’; and ‘The Future of Concrete.’
Papers presented included ‘Lessons Learnt From The 2006 Cement Crisis in Jamaica,’ ‘Improvements in Block Making Techniques’ and ‘Minimising Concrete Degradation Through Cement Specialisation.’