Gov't receives seismic roadmap
A roadmap to seismic safety which seeks to improve the capacity of the country to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of earthquakes was presented to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development last Thursday.
The roadmap was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) following a seismic risk forum in January.
It outlines short-medium-and long-term priorities for the Government, such as improving and updating earthquake response plans, enforcing the building code, creating a national steering committee to guide the implementation of the roadmap, and integrating seismic risk planning in the urban process.
Portfolio minister Noel Arscott said the roadmap will require constant attention and support from a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including policymakers and the private sector.
"Critical to the success of the programmes that will emanate, will be the buy-in from policymakers, not only at the central government level, but at the local government level," the minister argued.
Acting deputy director general of ODPEM Horace Glaze said the roadmap is very timely to help bring attention to an issue which is often overlooked by the general public, "partly because we don't have as many frequent events, although the Earthquake Unit reports that we have over 300 earthquakes a year, with most not felt by the public".
Resident representative of the UNDP Arun Kashyap said the roadmap signals a milestone in the ongoing efforts to ensure Jamaica's seismic safety, and that its implementation would mark the next phase of the initiative.
In the meantime, Minister Arscott said the long-awaited building code, which looks critically at seismic resilience, should be enacted this legislative year.
"We are in the final stages of tabling the building Bill in Parliament, as we have received a draft from the chief parliamentary counsel. Very soon it will be submitted to the Legislative Committee," he said.