JIS News

Story Highlights

  • A roadmap to seismic safety, which seeks to improve the capacity of the country to prepare for earthquakes was handed over to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.
  • The roadmap was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ODPEM.
  • It outlines short, medium and long-term priorities for the Government, such as improving and updating earthquake response plans.

A roadmap to seismic safety, which seeks to improve the capacity of the country to prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of an earthquake, was handed over to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development on April 24.

The roadmap was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), after a seismic risk forum in January.

It outlines short, medium and long-term priorities for the Government, such as improving and updating earthquake response plans; enforcing the building code; creation of a national steering committee to guide the implementation of the roadmap; and the integration of seismic risk planning in the urban process.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, said the roadmap will require constant attention and support from a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including the policy makers and the private sector.

“Critical to the success of the programmes that will emanate, will be the buy-in from policy makers, not only at the central government level, but at the local government level,” the Minister argued.

Acting Deputy Director General at the ODPEM, Horace Glaze, said the roadmap is very timely to help bring attention to an issue which is often overlooked by the general public, “partly because we don’t have as many frequent events, although the Earthquake Unit reports that we have over 300 earthquakes a year, with most not felt by the public.”

Resident Representative of the UNDP, Dr. Arun Kashyap, said the handing over of the roadmap signals a milestone in the ongoing efforts to ensure Jamaica’s seismic safety, and that its implementation would mark the next phase of the initiative.

Dr. Kashyap also pledged his support to help the Government fully implement the roadmap.

In the meantime, Minister Arscott said the long awaited building code which looks critically at seismic resilience should be enacted this legislative year.

“We are in the final stages of tabling the building Bill in Parliament, as we have received a draft from the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. Very soon it will be submitted to the Legislative Committee,” he said.