We risk having a disaster like in Turkey, Syria
A rescuer carries a baby girl after pulling her from the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey in the town of Jinderis, Syria, Tuesday, February 7, 2023. (Photo: AP)

Dear Editor,

The recent earthquake devastation of buildings in Turkey and Syria resulted in the arrest of several public officials and private sector developers. They have been accused of connections to a web of government corruption.

There is a lesson here for risk assessment in Jamaica.

To illustrate the point, how many investors are financing and individuals buying into developments that lack regular construction and structural testing, inspections, and certification in writing? These are required at critical points by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) as the responsible entity under the 2018 Building Act.

Additionally, are insurers and financial institutions aware of, in particular, the need to engage qualified professional teams, including structural engineers in the pre-planning, design, and construction processes of high-rise buildings? The authorities have reported that there are not enough inspectors for all the buildings rising up. This is inevitably resulting in a high probability of serious safety compromises and/or 'illegitimate' inspections and certification.

This recommended safeguard ensures there are no structural defects, also any unapproved developments and defective construction. These are critical for earthquake mitigation, to avoid a repeat in Jamaica of the recent post-earthquake occurrences in Turkey and Syria.

The Advocates Network calls on the entities responsible for the governance of the construction industry, and every investor and buyer of recently constructed high-rise buildings, to request immediately copies of the approved documents, along with records of visits and certification of these buildings.

The Advocates Network regards this as an urgent call, because Jamaica, likewise, is an earthquake-prone country. We have a history of earthquakes of similar magnitude, with aftershocks, as those that occurred February 6 in Turkey and Syria.

The Advocates Network is a group of concerned Jamaicans here and in the Diaspora who believe that we should treat the governance of our country as serious business. Justice and fair play must be uncompromising and free from corruption.

We call on more citizens and organisations to take a stand for integrity.

Robert Stephens

Patricia Donald Phillips

Advocates Network


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