Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Illegal construction rampant in Hanover

Published:Thursday | February 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels

Western Bureau:

Illegally constructed buildings, both by squatters and legitimate landowners, is increasingly becoming a bother to the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC), which is now preparing to tackle the problem head-on with a view of putting a permanent end to what is a vexing problem.

With the May 2016 incident, in which a section of a major hotel collapsed in Negril, and two workers seriously injured, the HMC is adamant that there should be no recurrence. Preliminary investigations into the incident revealed that insufficient design and lack of supervision by the Hanover municipal body were to blame for the collapse.

There are still three major hotel developments in the Negril area that the HMC says are posing a challenge because of their lack of adherence to the requirements, as laid down by the Local Government Act and the building code in the parish.

"It is really sad that the hotels are in operation and we do not know if they are safe or not," said Lucea's mayor, Councillor Sheridan Samuels, while addressing the corporation's Physical Planning and Environment Committee meeting yesterday.

In an interview with The Gleaner, one committee member said that there were numerous other buildings across the parish for which the developers were not following the required procedures. He said also that squatting is becoming a major problem across the parish as no one seems to respect the municipal body.

Checks carried out by The Gleaner revealed that over 600 stop orders for illegal construction were issued by the corporation's enforcement officers during 2017, while 61 were issued in January 2018. These were against buildings that are at various stages of construction. In many cases, the owners have continued building after a first stop order was issued.

In Hopewell, where there is a major squatting problem along the main road towards the western end of that town. Dave Brown, the member of parliament for eastern Hanover, told The Gleaner that he was against the practise of squatting. He said that he was blaming the inaction of the HMC for the growing trend in the parish.

"I know there are plans for the development of that area, (along the main road) so at some stage, whatever squatting is taking place there they will have to be removed," said Brown, adding that the municipal corporation has the authority to stop what is happening immediately.