With Hurricane Dorian providing yet another eye-opener to the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters, made more vicious and unpredictable by climate change, Government is planning to upgrade a number of protocols and policies, including mandatory building code, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has revealed
Speaking to reporters at Government Headquarters this afternoon, Mottley explained that it was imperative that Barbadians get back to the tried and tested building methods suited to adverse weather conditions, such as gabled roofs.
Apart from the legislative component, the Government is planning to make the technical know-how readily available, while negotiating with lending institutions to fast-track funds for this initiative.
“We are moving in that direction certainly with respect to the roofs and the stability etc. Part of the problem is that the last government would have put in place the building code but the legislation was never put in place to make it mandatory,” said Mottley.
“We have difficulty with a building code that requires everybody to go to new building authority, put in an application and then for the building authority to have to inspect things. What we are hoping to do is to work with the architects and engineers. Almost every wooden house in Barbados looks like the next because Barbadians have used a few house designs as a model. They have been trained to it, masons and carpenters know how to build that model and in some instances, they close their eyes and do it.”
Noting that prevention can only take the country so far, Mottley unveiled plans to revisit the now dormant Catastrophe Fund, which the Freundel Stuart administration would have attempted to abolish. She also noted that the current insurance systems were too limited and advocated negotiations with international territories that are equally vulnerable to these systems in an effort to widen the pool.
In addition to the building codes, Government also intends to introduce a civil penalties system by way of tickets, to persons who refuse to clear debris from their property, which could potentially be a hazard for neighbours.
Also present at today’s press briefing, which came a day after Mottley got a first-hand look at the devastation in nothern Bahamas in the aftermath of Dorian, Attorney General Dale Marshall explained that much of the legislation in this regard was outdated and needed to be amended if the laws are to be effective.
“The idea of individuals being responsible in law for maintaining sanitary conditions are not new. The Prime Minister is constantly talking about it now but as far back as the 1960s the regulations were there. Over the years it seems as though we have paid less and less attention to it but certainly last year when we had to deal with [Tropical Storm] Kirk, there was flooding in the Orleans area largely because drains had been blocked with plastic bags. Areas that should have been cleared of grass and bush were not,” said Marshall.
“So a small ministerial committee has been set up to make amendments designed to encourage Barbadians to take care of their open spaces but if they do not, we want to make sure that the Government is able to move in and deal with those things at the expense of the homeowner or real estate owner,” Marshall explained. “We are not interested in making anybody criminals but we must motivate persons to demonstrate the type of conduct that staves off disaster.”