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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Do standards exist in the building and construction industry in Jamaica?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dear Editor,

A recent situation I experienced in Jamaica has caused me to ask the question: Do standards exist in the building and construction industry in Jamaica?

As a member of the Diaspora, I made a conscious decision to invest in Jamaica and purchased a newly built apartment in Kingston and St Andrew. I make infrequent visits home, but when I do, I spend at most, a week each time. I receive and use electronic payments for all my utility bills. Three months after purchase, I noticed that the water bill was showing unusual usage each month – even though no one was occupying the apartment during this time.

I wrote to the National Water Commission (NWC) to share my concern and was told to have the apartment checked out for leaks. That was done, but no leaks were found. I communicated this to the NWC who said that they would investigate the issue (that was October, 2018).

Another month went by and the latest water bill received showed an even greater increase in usage. I had to travel to Jamaica - which cost me an unintended visit home - just to follow-up on the issue.

On checking my NWC water meter number against the lock-off for the apartment it was discovered that another apartment had been assigned my lock off. In fact, the meters issued in the complex were not connected to right apartments and residents were receiving each other's water bill.

The question I would like to have answered is: “How and why should this happen in a newly constructed complex?” Are there no requirements for builders to have their plumbers work alongside the NWC when meters are being installed? Are there no inspectors who sign off of the readiness of the building (electricity, water etc) before the handing over process?

This situation is certainly not encouraging as it wastes both time and money to be rectified, if only the right thing had been done in the first place -- this at a time when Jamaica is supposed to be on the path to growth and economic development, according to the 2030 Vision.

This one should be an easy fix. Standards must be developed and complied with in the building and construction industry. All builders and contractors big and small should be on an approved list to which the general public has access. The incompetent need to be weeded out. This is just not good enough for investors. Diaspora member