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Plans for building code overhaul to be revealed by September


Tribune Staff Reporter

PLANS to overhaul the country’s building code should be revealed by early September, according to Luther Smith, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Works and Utilities.

Works Minister Alfred Sears had previously said that the overhauled building code would require new legislation and extensive training.

Interest in altering the building code escalated after Hurricane Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in 2019. But next month, the country will face another hurricane season with a building code that has not been updated since 2003.

Mr Smith said the Ministry of Works believes the current code is adequate for the upcoming hurricane season. Otherwise, changes to the code are expected to ensure that buildings, sea walls, docks, and construction materials are of better quality than before, even though there may be a rise in the cost of materials.

Mott MacDonald Limited, a global engineering company, is assessing the country’s code and will recommend upgrades that deal with coastal climate hazard exposure and risks.

“We expect a presentation by the consultants sometime in June and thereafter,” Mr Smith said yesterday. “We hope to have a document that could be presented widely to the public and other stakeholders sometime in late August or early September.”

“Mott MacDonald Limited, they have been meeting with us quite frequently. We have had several presentations, one to the minister and others, but they are now just finishing their review, and that’s still in progress.”

“In the meantime, we are satisfied that the existing building code and the Buildings Regulation Act provide sufficient coverage and provide sufficient integrity for the construction community here in The Bahamas.

“We hope that with the modernisation of the building code, we will even go further and strengthen the integrity of the building code and the construction industry in The Bahamas.”

In 2021, Mr Sears said while The Bahamas has one of the most robust building codes in the region, Hurricane Dorian showed it is not strong enough.

“Dorian taught us a lesson — that we are not robust enough, especially in the enforcement,” he said.

“The building code is being reviewed, as well as other aspects of the building control section, to ensure that we are current and up to date with what is required with regards to resilience and sustainability in the face of climate change.”

He said an effective inspection regime, including third-party inspectors, will be involved in the new regime when the review is completed.