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Provisions of Building Act will be rigorously enforced – McKenzie

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says provisions of the 2018 Building Act will be rigorously enforced.

The legislation, which took effect on January 15, seeks to discourage new squatter settlements from being built, promote sustainable development, and establish and enforce internationally accepted building standards and rules for individuals and entities providing construction material and services.

Speaking at the recent launch of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness 2019 campaign in Kingston, the Minister pointed out that the Building Act is one of the primary instruments available for the enforcement of modern building standards across the country.

“I want to make it clear that the enforcement that will be seen and felt applies not only to persons and companies who are building structures, it also applies to those who live in or otherwise use existing structures,” he added.

McKenzie said the ministry will be enforcing the Act through the local building authorities, as well as the regulatory and appeals bodies established through the Act.

Assistance is also being provided by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and the National Compliance and Regulatory Agency (NCRA) in the area of quality control.

Pointing to Sections 48 to 58 of the Act, McKenzie reminded members of the public that the Act gives the local authorities clear powers to intervene through Emergency Orders to cease building work on land that is deemed to be hazardous.

It also requires owners to repair buildings certified as Dangerous Structures. Under the Act, local authorities are also empowered to demolish such a structure and recover the costs incurred by the local authority for remedial steps taken from the owner through the courts.

Additionally, Section 58 states that a Judge can order the immediate removal of anyone from any building certified as a Dangerous Structure by the Local Authority's Chief Engineering Officer, or on his or her own initiative.

Provisions in the Building Act include ensuring public safety and welfare, ensuring the accessibility and safety for individuals with disabilities and promoting sustainable development.

The Act also establishes that the municipalities will be the local building authorities responsible for certifying, inspecting and taking the necessary actions to change existing structures or approve new buildings.— JIS


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