Building code can buffer earthquake, hurricane damage — JIE president

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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STRICT adherence to Jamaica's proposed building code can be a significant buffer against earthquake and hurricane damage, Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) President Dwight Ricketts has said.

He was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the 2018 JIE Engineers' Week on Monday at Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

Noting that engineering “continues to be a driving force for economic development”, Ricketts is quoted in a release as saying: “The word engineer carries a rich history from our past foreparents and so we cannot be short-sighted in our quest to achieve sustainable development with particular interest in our food security and the environment”.

Referencing a predicted active 2018 hurricane season, which has already affected some parts of the United States of America, and the 4.6 magnitude earthquake in Jamaica on Sunday, according to the release, Ricketts said that his membership hoped for a speedy enactment of the Bill for “a modern building” code for which the new Building Act passed earlier this year has paved the way.

The JIE president said that the new building code is even more urgent now given “Jamaica's increased vulnerability to natural disasters, including earthquakes”.

Highlighting that the JIE “had the honour of contributing to the development of the Building Act”, Ricketts said his membership “is fully committed to the practice of engineering at the highest possible standard”.

In the meantime, chairman of the Urban Development Corporation, Senator Ransford Braham, who represented Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the ceremony, congratulated the JIE on their contributions to development in Jamaica.

“Historically, Jamaica's development and growth as a nation is in a large way owed to the skills and efforts of engineers — railways, sugar refineries, reservoirs, water systems, power plants, and solar energy are all products of engineering,” Senator Braham said.

Farm machinery and irrigation systems, he said, “have taken agricultural efficiency and productivity to a new level leading to vastly larger, safer and less costly food supply; a source of livelihood for many Jamaicans and a means of gaining valuable foreign exchange through exports”.

He also applauded the engineers' role in advances in the provision of potable water, in water treatment and supply distribution systems; in electricity including the development of fuel sources, power-generating techniques and transmission grids and new roads, bridges and tunnels.

According to the release, Braham lauded the recent opening of the new Engineering Faculty at the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies in response to the growing demand for engineers.

“Given our current growth trajectory, a strong cadre of engineers, equipped with the understanding, attitudes and abilities necessary to apply their skills is critical to ensure a vibrant economy,” he said.

He noted, too, that “today it is even more imperative that the implementation of innovative engineering solutions help to ensure our economic growth and secure development”, and called on the engineers “to commit to finding common solutions through synergies to continue to advance the pace of our development”.

The week runs September 17-22 and features daily conferences under the theme, “Engineering our Future Through Celebrating Our Heritage”.

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