FAILURE TO pass legislation enabling a national building code is hindering a crucial disaster risk management and reduction plan by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
Director general of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, on Tuesday outlined four key elements of the plan to promote sustainable development in Jamaica.
One of the elements deals with the application of safer construction and planning standards, which needs the bill to go forward.
"It (the bill) is central. The building code has actually been developed. What is important is that it is legislated early in the process." Jackson explained that the bill goes through a three-year cycle of review.
"So if we don't legislate it immediately, and we go through a long legislative process, by the time we get around, that code is now obsolete, because it's a process that the engineers go through. So it has to be promulgated immediately," he urged.
Jackson was speaking on climate change and other issues at the Kiwanis club of Kingston's weekly luncheon on Tuesday. He noted that the proposed bill also speaks to the human resources required to monitor application of the code, and also measures applied if the code is breached.
"We (ODPEM) have been doing some work to advance not just the code, but advance elements related to safer construction at the artisanal level," he said, pointing out that ODPEM had been working with builders looking at different construction strategies. Jackson said he has continually made representation to different governments to have the bill passed.
"At the last committee meeting, which involved the prime minister and several key ministers, the issue of the code and legislating the code was put on the table again for urgent attention," he assured.
Jackson said the ODPEM plan is being revised and further developed. A five-year action plan has also been developed and is being supported by the Inter-American Development Bank.
"The building code is a critical plank. We want to see it put into law sooner than later," he reiterated. Jackson said when examining the relationship between disaster risk and other issues, it has to be looked at as a developmental issue.
"We spend a lot of time focusing on economics and achieving growth and meeting those growth targets. all of those ambitions are challenged by our ability to manage the disaster risk management sector. If we don't manage that, we're always going to be struggling to have consistency in terms of growth."
He outlined that other key areas of the ODPEM plan was community and stakeholder participation; integration of risk management principles into public policy; and developing a culture of prevention.