Senate passes Building Act with 30 amendments
After more than a decade of discussions on modern legislation to address a myriad concerns in the building industry in Jamaica, the Upper House yesterday gave unanimous support to the Building Act. The legislation was passed with 30 amendments.
Opposition lawmaker Senator Dr Floyd Morris said that the passage of the bill was a major victory for persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
The legislation will, among other things, ensure the rights of persons with disabilities regarding accessibility, suitability, safety, and user-friendliness of all buildings to which these persons may be invited or have a right of access.
In his contribution to debate on the bill, Morris indicated that the passage of this law would lead to an increase in disabled-friendly facilities. He said that with facilities accessible to the disabled, the tourism sector could target the largely untapped disabled community overseas.
However, he bemoaned the four-year delay in the implementation of the Disabilities Act, which was passed by Parliament in 2014.
He told his colleague senators that he had no "great hope" that the law would be implemented anytime soon, noting that there were outstanding areas, including the establishment of the codes of practice.
Charles Sinclair, government senator, said that the new law would serve to address concerns of conflict of interest that plagued the building approval process for years.
Another government senator, Kavan Gayle, urged the administration to move quickly to table the occupational health law, which would serve to strengthen the building law.
Sophia Fraser Binns, opposition senator, wants the Government to make it mandatory that all new housing developments install water-harvesting facilities.
She also wants a provision in the law whereby large developers are required to contribute to the restoration of roads damaged in communities where housing development has taken place.
The opposition senator suggested that when developers are paying application fees to carry out development works, a special levy should be imposed on them and placed in a fund to rehabilitate roads.
In her comments, leader of opposition business, Donna Scott Mottley, welcomed the building law, while urging the Government to take steps to ensure that the costs associated with the building-approval process do not spiral out of the reach of ordinary Jamaicans.