KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday January 13, 2020 – Amid heightened seismic activity in the region, the Jamaica government is moving to better prepare residents by establishing a National Earthquake Readiness Committee.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie said that committee will be linked to the National Disaster Council and will along with the National Building Advisory Council.
“We are now prepared to take the message of earthquake preparedness to the 14 parishes of Jamaica,” he said at a recent town hall meeting.
“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.”
The Minister said a number of well-known Jamaicans have already indicated their willingness to serve on the National Earthquake Readiness Committee.
He stressed that it was 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.
The 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 Jamaica Master Builders’ Association will also sit on the 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.
Minister McKenzie also 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.