Topic: Construction Industry
Thank you for your article titled “Pay Now or Pay Later”, published in the Sunday Observer dated 23 September 2012. Loy Malcolm’s advocacy for updated codes and standards being used in the construction industry is well founded. But as with so many other things in Jamaica, implementation is the real problem: not the inability to have them drafted or their lack of acceptance.
I can attest to the need for these codes and standards. While working in the Projects Unit of the Ministry of Health, we had to use British standards to rehabilitate our hospitals, because our specialist health-facility consultants were British and no local codes existed for this purpose. Had the original U.S. consultants who drafted the hospital programme been used for this phase of works, we probably would have adopted their standards. We also need codes to address “green”, or sustainable, buildings.
The industry is generally in agreement with Ms. Malcolm. Updating codes and standards has even been written into Jamaica’s Vision 2030 Sector Plan for the Construction Industry. Building professionals will even give of their time and effort freely to achieve this end. Again, I can attest to the commitment of professionals that voluntarily worked on the steering and working groups that drafted the local adaptation of the International Building Code [IBC] in 2006.
The IBC gets updated regularly every three (3) years but, after six (6) years, the relevant legislation has still not been passed to enforce our code. It is hoped there will be no further delay on this matter. Jamaica’s construction industry is poised to return to pre-recession levels of activity in the medium term, and planning has already begun on buildings that will be designed in the short-term. If we are really serious about codes and standards, the time to act is now. If we really want Jamaica to progress, let us stop procrastinating on matters as serious as this.