Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Law coming to tackle squatting, no-build zone

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 12:07 AMEdmond Campbell
Desmond McKenzie

Efforts to craft regulations establishing no-build zones in areas vulnerable to flooding are well under way according to Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.

He argues that there are areas vulnerable to floods or earthquakes in which mitigation efforts are either impractical or impossible.

McKenzie made the disclosure Tuesday while piloting the Building Bill in Parliament which is intended to create and maintain standards for the construction and maintenance of physical structures.

Provisions in the bill are aimed at preventing and reducing squatting in Jamaica and create safer spaces in both rural and urban areas.

"There is the constant threat of injury and death through flooding and land slippage that accompanies squatting in low and high areas respectively," McKenzie declared.

The local government minister highlighted that more than 30,000 households now reside in more than 700 informal settlements islandwide which largely feature poor sanitary facilities, the threat of fire and electrocution through illegal electrical connections and significant rates of crime.

Discussing clause 58 of the bill, McKenzie said that it gives the local authority the power, after approval by the courts, to remove any occupier of a dangerous structure. He cited dilapidated structures and homes that could collapse and cause serious injury to occupants.

Commenting on clause 13 of the proposed law, McKenzie said it prohibits the building surveyor or any other official employed to the local authority from carrying out private work involving any aspect of constructing or supervising any building work within the jurisdiction of the local authority to which he is attached.

The new bill will replace the Kingston and St Andrew Building Act and the Parish Councils Building Act.

Debate on the bill was suspended until next Tuesday.