Course essential

Deputy executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Elizabeth Riley, has called on Government to make participation in the Regional Code of Practice for the Construction of Houses course, a requirement for securing a contractor’s licence.

Riley made this call this week as she delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony for the course which will now be offered at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) for all stakeholders of the island’s building industry.

She said that the requirement should be introduced because there were fundamental issues pertaining to housing design and construction in the region, which if addressed could significantly increase the resilience of housing stock and reduce the economic fallout from hazard impacts because reality is that resilience could be incorporated most economically and effectively during construction.

On this note, Riley said CDEMA believed that if the construction community recognized practicing safer building techniques as a significant part of their contribution to nation building and sustained economic growth, the  region could go a long way in achieving sustainable development.

“There is the need for more education and training of the designers and builders in the well established techniques that are available for eliminating or reducing property losses due to hurricanes and earthquakes. In the absence of a legislated building code, we recognize that there must also be a considerable degree of self-regulation among professionals to ensure that design and construction are in compliance with the codes and standards.

“However, we can go further by mandating good standards and continuing education of engineers and architects on how to design against the natural hazards prevalent in the Caribbean.”

Riley said that it was for this reason that the CDEMA Coordinating Unit made the commitment to partnering with the SJPP and similar institutions across the region to coordinate disaster risk reduction action and strategies which is central to the Regional Strategy For Comprehensive Disaster Management.

CDEMA developed the curriculum and course manuals for training in safer building techniques. The course was first piloted in four countries with the support of the government of Canada and regional construction experts.

To date, it has been delivered in seven of CDEMA’s eighteen participating states and now due to the support by AusAID, UKAID and DFATD, CDEMA was pleased to collaborate with the SJPP to deliver the training programme.

“The SJPP must be commended in stepping forward to offer the course. However, it is important to recognize that SJPP has to be supported in making the training available to the target audience on a sustained basis. On that note she challenged governments, financing agencies, and the insurance industry to step forward and play their part.”

Riley explained that in the Virgin Islands’ the successful completion of the course was a requirement for securing a contractor’s license. She said that the next critical step would be for the regional vocational institutions of the region to recognize and endorse the certification in safer building so that the training would be accepted in any other CARICOM member state.

Deputy executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Elizabeth Riley.
Deputy executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Elizabeth Riley.


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