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Make national building code a priority

Sunday, September 13, 2015
Mc Donald told...
Marlene Mc Donald

National Building Code Committee chairman Shyankaran Lalla is appealing to Housing Minister Marlene Mc Donald to make a national building code one of her top priorities as she officially begins her tenure. 

Lalla, speaking with the Sunday Guardian, said billions of dollars have been spent on repair works due to the non adherence of building codes in this country.

This, he said, should be more than enough reason for a National Building Code to be given priority by the PNM administration, so they can ensure that taxpayers get value for money, and “for the protection of the health safety and welfare of the citizens of the country.”

Mc Donald, who was among 23 ministers sworn in on Friday at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain, said she has a lot of plans for the ministry including reviews of all the programmes which were under the People’s Partnership government. 

She also assured that the regularisation of squatters will be made a priority, and that she will be granting statutory leases to them to ensure security of land tenure.

While Lalla welcomed the move, he also suggested that the minister focus on the structural safety of those squatter homes and all buildings in T&T.

“We hope that the new Housing Minister, in reviewing the programmes, gives building codes priority, since the country cannot afford to spend valuable resources repairing buildings due to the non adherence of building codes,” Lalla contended.

He said the former Minister of Housing signed an agreement with the International Code Council for the use of licenced materials and adoption of the International Building Codes following recommendations made by the Cabinet-appointed National Building Code Committee.

“The signing of a licence agreement for the adoption of the ICC building codes is the most significant engineering achievement to regulate the design construction and administration of safe and resilient structures for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of our citizens,” he said, as he urged Mc Donald to continue the work of the committee.

Lalla said he has been invited to address the ICC International Global Forum in Los Angeles, California, on September 27 on the Trinidad building code experience and to receive the instruments for the establishment of the first ICC Chapter in the Caribbean.

He said the licence agreement now paves the way for the Government to legally adopt and put measures in place for the enforcement of building codes which can reduce the risks associated with disasters.

He said it should also be noted that a budget of $12m was approved by Cabinet in December 2013, but no funding was provided to the committee to deliver on its mandate.

Lalla also made a plea for funding for the committee. He said while the committee did not get funding or their stipend from the previous government, they were able to complete 75 per cent of the work thus far. 

“Members of the committee were not paid their stipend but this did not prevent them from working on the development of a National Building Code because they were cognisant of the disasters which occurred globally and were mindful of the warnings of UWI Seismic Research Centre that our country was due for a major earthquake.”

The centre also recorded over 130 seismic events in Trinidad over the past four months, he said. 


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