HEAD OF ENGINEERING BODY WARNS ABSENCE OF BUILDING CODES LEAVES COUNTRY VULNERABLE
Less than 24 hours into the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, authorities are being urged to finally mandate building codes.
The renewed appeal has come from the president of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (BAPE), Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne who said the lack of functional building codes was cause for concern and questioned the holdup in putting such codes in place.
He pointed out that while a new Planning and Development Act was passed in 2020, the heart of the legislation relating to building controls and codes was “mysteriously” excluded and not proclaimed. This circumstance, Browne said, left the country’s building stock extremely vulnerable to certain events, including hurricanes and fires.
A building code is a specific minimum standard for building and construction designed to minimise injury and death as well as damage and disruption during a disaster.
Browne, therefore, questioned the continued exclusion of such a code here while pointing out that most Caribbean islands have already taken the critical step.
“We are the only Commonwealth Caribbean country where there are no current legal requirements for minimum building codes to be met in order for planning and development approval of infrastructural projects,” he added, warning that “lady luck” can only hold for so long.
The BAPE president lamented that new buildings constructed on the island since the proclamation of the Act have not been required to meet the minimum construction standards.
He also raised serious concerns over the fact that there continues to be a proliferation of one-door public spaces, 13 years after the Campus Trendz fire in Tudor Street, The City which claimed the lives of six young women.
“Sick buildings and flooding are additional major concerns that continue to demand professional standards to be adopted and applied, as well as accountability for results. Until planning designs for such projects are required to meet minimum building codes, and until designers are held responsible for any design or construction failures, flooding damage, and sick building issues will continue to be regular features,” the engineer stated.
Browne added that extensive coastline construction will require preemptive planning and design to be discussed due to the impact of storm surges, and wave action.