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Attorney general welcomes proposed Building Practitioners' Board

Friday, October 13, 2017

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ATTORNEY General Marlene Malahoo Forte has welcomed the proposed establishment of a Building Practitioners' Board as provided for in the Building Act that is now before the House of Representatives.

The board will define and establish categories of practice of building practitioners, and determine the scope and nature of work that each category shall be licensed to perform.

The body will also license building practitioners to perform functions as authorised under the Act and determine qualifications, requirements and other criteria.

In her contribution to the debate in the Lower House on Tuesday, Malahoo Forte noted concerns arising, especially in her constituency, about the poor standard of work carried out on development projects.

“Very often you hear that the authorities are not regulating and are not enforcing, and those who employ building practitioners are short-changed at the end of the day. With the passing of this new law, we have a fresh opportunity to ensure that our buildings are up to standard and that persons who work in the construction industry will be provided an opportunity to be certified to a level where they can build safely and at the required standard,” she stated.

The Bill also provides for regulations to be made for water harvesting, including a stipulation for the storage of rainwater run-off, for energy efficiency design and construction, and for the use of renewable energy technology and conservation methodologies.

Malahoo Forte noted that right across Jamaica, persons complain about the inadequacy of water.

“I look forward to the regulations being passed and to ensure that when the plans come in for approval, that the provision for water (and energy conservation) is taken into account. We have to ensure that our people are put at a stage where they can live a little easier, especially when it comes to water,” she stated.

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.

The legislation will also streamline the permit application system to eliminate unnecessary referrals and expedite responses; facilitate the introduction of special express services; and safeguard 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.

— JIS

In addition, the legislation establishes that the municipal corporations are to be the local building authorities that will be responsible for inspecting, certifying and taking the actions necessary to approve new structures, change existing buildings, or destroy dangerous structures.

Debate on the legislation will continue during the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

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