Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Infrastructure and Built Environment Overhaul Needed - Lue

Published:Thursday | March 10, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Christopher Lue

Christopher Lue, a former president of the Jamaica Institute of Architects (JIA) is adamant that Jamaica is desperately in need of an overhaul of its current infrastructure and wants policies relating to the built environment to be prioritised by the government

For Lue, the first order of business in relation to infrastructure should be the commissioning of a condition survey of all bridges in Jamaica. This survey should then be used to guide repair and replacement of those bridges where necessary.

"You keep seeing these things where you have collapses or damage on pedestrian bridges in the upper reaches of St Andrew so instead of waiting for disasters to happen we should have been doing preventive maintenance in terms of evaluating these bridges," he said in an interview with The Gleaner.

The former JIA president pointed out that an inventory report on bridge parts which were procured through contracts with British bridge-building firm Mabey & Johnson, under the late Joseph Hibbert who was Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Transport and Works at the time, should be done.

Those contracts were the subject of a corruption probe which haunted Hibbert's short lived political career after Mabey & Johnson, confessed to paying him kickbacks.

"They bought a whole heap of bridge parts for assembling bridges, including bailey bridges so as to where those are, how much is in stock ... there needs to be a general inventory and general repair programmes instituted," Lue added.

Turning his attention to a national transport policy, Lue has argued that the policy should be revised to make it more compatible with the national energy policy.

"If we talk about energy policy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels why is it that our national spatial plan seem to want to put people far away from where they live so they are forced to commute long distances because of the lack of a proper public transport system?" he asked.

Lue further called for a review and assessment of storm water drainage in all major urban centres.

In regards to the efficiency of planning agencies, Lue has highlighted the importance of reviewing the organisation, staffing, and minimum educational experience of officers in the building and planning departments of parish councils, the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, the Portmore Municipal Authority, National Environmental Planning Agency, National Works Agency and Ministry of Health, "to ensure efficient and thorough review of applications in a timely manner, and also to deal with enforcement and inspection of projects granted building permits".

"Paramount to this, is the necessary financial support for agencies to do their work," he said.