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Desmond demands order - Minister points finger at major developers flouting building laws

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said he is not bluffing when he insists that buildings now being erected must be in full compliance with the building codes and laws of the country.

McKenzie, speaking during a national building policy workshop at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last week, made it clear that he was uncomfortable with people flouting the law by erecting buildings that have not been given the nod from the relevant state agencies.


The minister, who claimed he was speaking from a position of experience, said those who are guilty of such practices are usually persons who have resources in abundance or, put another way, are the major developers.

“Many of us believe that it is only the small man who breaks the law. You would be surprised to know that the small man who is doing an addition to his house ... they are the ones that abide by the law,” McKenzie said.

“Most major developers circumvent the law, circumvent the building approval that is granted and that is why you find in some developments [schemes], the sewage system does not work effectively. You find that there is flooding.”

Because of greed, McKenzie said ­ still taking aim at the major developers ­ even spaces, initially designated as ‘green spaces’ in communities are being built out.

“There are developments now that will never have access to title because they have violated the building approvals that have been granted,” the minister said.

McKenzie, who is currently piloting a bill in Parliament which seeks to address various building issues, including the ones he raised, suggested that he would not hesitate to act.

He said he would not entertain the “poor” argument.

Courts always side with me on building breaches ­ - McKenzie

Desmond McKenzie, minister of local government and community development, has declared that, during his over-a-decade-long stint as mayor of Kingston, while destroying several buildings and having been dragged before the courts by developers as a result, he has never lost a case.

“They even took me to the Privy Council and we won at the Privy Council ...,” McKenzie stressed.

“In certain parts of Miami, Florida, you cannot change the colour of the building unless the authorities agree. Most of them have homes in Miami and they dare not do it there because they know the consequences,” he said.

“This building bill is going to strengthen the authorities so they can have more checks and balances as it relates to unauthorised constructions.”

McKenzie argued that, with Jamaica’s susceptibility to natural disasters, it is critical that the quality of the built environment be considered fundamental to the country’s ability to withstand the threats.