KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition spokesperson of Local Government, Natalie Neita Garvey, says the promised new building regulations announced by the Prime Minister will not achieve the desired outcome if the government fails to staff the building departments of all municipal corporations with sufficient and well trained building personnel.
Reacting to announcements on new building regulations, Neita Garvey called on the Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, to ensure that there is a human resource audit of the building departments to employ adequate staff, so the effectiveness of the new regulations will be bolstered by the staff to enforce its provisions.
In addition, the opposition spokesperson, in a statement, said most of the Municipal Corporations do not have adequate staffing to oversee the number of projects in the parishes and ensure that buildings are built in accordance with approved plans.
“If staff is not adequate and well trained, the breaches will continue and the new regulations will be of no effect”, she said.
Neita Garvey stated that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation was the most glaring example of inadequate staff levels as there are only four employees to monitor and police all the building projects in the Corporate Area.
She also said this situation contributed to development approval deadlines being missed, resulting in investor distress.
Neita Garvey reminded the government that under the Local Reform Programme in the early 1990s, municipalities retained building fees to allow them to adequately finance the hiring of building officers and offer competitive compensation to ensure proper monitoring of approved plans and issue stop orders in cases of non-compliance.
“No one can be satisfied with present levels of project monitoring in the parishes where incidents of breaches have been increasing,” she said.
“In St Catherine, for example, there is only one full time building officer and three contractors although large commercial distribution facilities and housing estates are continuously being built,” she added.
Neita Garvey added that both the promulgation of new regulations and proper staffing of the Municipal Corporations must go hand in hand in order to ensure provision of regulatory oversight of Jamaica’s built environment.