Sat | Aug 19, 2017

'Let Jamaicans do it'

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 5:00 AMErica Virtue

Miffed by what they consider the Government's "open-arms" policy towards foreigners in the construction industry, stakeholders last week told a Gleaner Editors' Forum that the talent required for "any major development" was present in Jamaica.

Clifton Yap, chairman of the Jamaican Institute of Architects (JIA) College of Fellows, said the public-private partnerships between Government and foreigners for the construction of large projects in Jamaica have done more harm than good for taxpayers. He said the partnerships were being carried out at the expense of local skilled professionals with a record of performance, training and experience at the highest level.

"With the design professionals, for sure we have the competence. There was a time when the construction was really decimated after the financial meltdown in the 1990s. When the influx of Spanish hotels started, we were really not in the best position to have maximised the benefits to Jamaica through our local construction and workmen, and so on," said Yap.

"I would say that over the period, things have been rebuilt in Jamaica. None of these buildings on its own that have been talked about, Parliament building and others, are anything outside of the realms of what we have done," he added.

"Every building in New Kingston has been done by local architects, engineers and contractors, and we have that capacity now. So, there is nothing about this that couldn't be done by locals," said Yap.

Carl Chen, retired government town planner and fellow of the JIA, said:

"We should not question the competence or skills of the (local) architects. Because, if you respond to the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Finance, they are set out and we respond to them accordingly."

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com