Senate passes Disaster Risk Management bill
The Senate this afternoon passed the Disaster Risk Management bill which will empower emergency personnel to legally evacuate persons as a preventive measure.
It will also allow the establishment of no-build zones.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, who piloted the bill, said it has been difficult for local disaster managers to carry out their mandates because of lack of legislative support.
Senator Golding said it is important that disaster mangers are empowered to take action to minimise risks.
He emphasised that it is disaster managers and the government who are left to pick up the pieces when Jamaicans fail to follow proper construction practices or refuse to heed disaster warnings.
Senator Golding pointed out that data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica shows that between 2001 and 2012 Jamaica experienced 12 storms, including five major hurricanes, which resulted in loss and damage of approximately $128.5 billion.
He added that health, housing and education were the most affected sector.
The Justice Minister emphasised that the Government has local and international obligations to protect Jamaicans and to put disaster risk reduction measures in place.
Among other things, the legislation makes provision for the identification and description of high-risk areas and prescribes the necessary action to be taken should a disaster occur.
It also establishes a National Disaster Risk Management Council, replacing the previous National Disaster Committee, and gives the body additional disaster management responsibilities.
The bill also provides for the establishment of a National Disaster Fund and identifies authorised officers with primary responsibility for responding to disasters.
They are members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Fire Brigade and public health officers.
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