National Earthquake Readiness Committee to be established
To better prepare the society for an earthquake, a new National Earthquake-Readiness Committee will soon be established by the Government.
This was announced by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, on Thursday at a town hall meeting held at the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Portland.
“We are now prepared to take the message of earthquake to the 14 parishes of Jamaica. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is tasked to prepare this programme, so that we can start the conversations in our schools, in businesses across the country, in our churches, in our communities, and focus on the things that we need to do,” McKenzie said.
“We are taking a number of steps to start to engage stakeholders in the country on this issue of disaster, as it relates to earthquakes. We’re establishing a National Earthquake Readiness Committee, and this committee is to be linked to the National Disaster Council and work along with the National Building Advisory Council.”
The minister said a number of well-known Jamaicans have already indicated their willingness to serve on this committee.
He stressed that it is important for this committee to be formed, as more buildings are being constructed, and more professional guidance is needed for the persons involved, given that some buildings are going up in areas that are threatened by natural disasters.
This committee will be headed by Roger Smith from the National Works Agency (NWA).
Representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica will also sit on this committee to examine and make specific recommendations to the Government as to how they can help to ensure that buildings are built in accordance with the various building acts.
The minister called on contractors and developers to ensure that they follow the various stipulations before building structures.
“When you go out there and put up an illegal structure that has poor foundation, poor columns, and is not built to specifications, and when you build on the banks of gullies and you encroach on drains and all those areas, you are creating ready-made disasters for yourselves and other persons,” he said.