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  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says he will be inviting architects and engineers to a meeting to discuss issues they have raised about the new Building Bill.
  • The Minister, who is scheduled to open the debate on the Bill during today’s sitting of the House of Representatives, said the concerns raised in the media were unexpected as “I did not table the Bill without having the necessary consultations”.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says he will be inviting architects and engineers to a meeting to discuss issues they have raised about the new Building Bill.

He made the disclosure while addressing a national building policy workshop at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday (June 6).

The Minister, who is scheduled to open the debate on the Bill during today’s sitting of the House of Representatives, said the concerns raised in the media were unexpected as “I did not table the Bill without having the necessary consultations”.

He indicated that within his first three months as Local Government Minister, he held extensive discussions with various players in the building industry.

“Before we sent this Bill to have the final work done on it, we circulated it, we invited (stakeholders) in the business (to make recommendations), and early this year, I met with the team and we signed off on what was tabled in Parliament,” he noted.

The Minister said significant changes were made to the Bill based on the suggestions put forward, but noted that it was not possible to accommodate all views. He noted that the accompanying Regulations will address some of the concerns outlined.

Minister McKenzie said the country cannot afford to postpone the debate “on the long-awaited and important bit of legislation that needs to guide the country’s building development”.

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 and welfare; minimise damage caused by natural and man-made hazards; prevent squatter settlements; and promote sustainable development.

The legislation will also streamline 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.

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.