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LETTER OF THE DAY - Registration of contractors necessary

Published:Wednesday | November 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM


THE ARTICLE on Monday, November 22, captioned 'A contract with corruption' outlined the need for registration of contractors and the unethical practices that some contractors heap upon Jamaican consumers and taxpayers when doing their work.

These weaknesses in the system pose the risk of accidents and cost overruns. The issue I have is that most government projects have usually three individuals who are supposed to offer that level of protection and to ensure that the design elements are adhered to in the project. The first individual is often called the clerk of works, who acts as a liaison between the client and the contractor to ensure that correct practice is used in the process, and that any changes in design are discussed and agreed on by the client and supplements the role of project manager.

Project manager

The second person is the project manager, who has a responsibility in two very key areas of time and cost, which can have impact on the project. The third person is the 'quantity surveyor', whose key responsibility is the costing of the project to ensure that the correct rates are paid according to the contract, and also that money is only paid for work which has been completed. This, in fact, offers protection to the client (taxpayer) to ensure value for money.

Having briefly outlined the roles of these individuals, this leads me to query the competence of these individuals. Do they, in fact, become part of the culture of corruption? When a project has the possibility of cost or time overruns, where is the 'red flag' shown to the client?

Is there an investigation to determine the causative factors which lead to the overruns?

No safety features

When I heard about the accident that claimed the lives of the two unfortunate workers of a 'contractor' - and I use that term rather loosely - I immediately knew what had happened and wondered why there were no safety features implemented to prevent this accident. Then I realised that I was in Jamaica, and the average Jamaican worker, on observation, does not seem to value personal safety. I have seen so many instances of accidents waiting to happen, and wonder what risk-management procedures are in place, and the penalties for not adhering to safety measures.

To ask the Government to legislate safety is one step, as accidents cost money, but there is also a need for contractors to implement measures that will reduce cost and time and offer greater safety. I call upon the Government to implement the new building code, in spite of its weaknesses, as a starting point is much better than none. I know there will be the inevitable backlash of increasing construction costs due to these measures, but how does one value life?

I am, etc.,

Mario Woode