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Tuesday 18 September 2018
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Young: Govt to revisit mandatory building code

MASON COP: A policeman looks on as his colleague from the Police Service's facilities management department repairs cracks in a wall caused by Tuesday's earthquake at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain yesterday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

GOVERNMENT is willing to revisit building code regulations, says Communications Minister Stuart Young, especially after Tuesday’s 6.9 quake shook the country. TT does not have a legally enforceable building code, and the Town and Country Planning Division does not assess buildings for structural integrity. The TT Bureau of Standards does have guidelines but they are purely voluntary.

Even as he gave reporters the government’s assurance yesterday at the post-Cabinet media briefing, Young said TT was fortunate that regardless of the lack of mandatory enforcement, the general practice throughout the construction sector was to apply international standards for earthquakes and hurricane-force winds when erecting major buildings.

All government buildings, he said had to comply with the California state building code, since that is one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the Western Hemisphere.

“Even for unplanned buildings there did not *knock wood* appear to be any loss of life nor serious injuries,” Young said. The discussion about building codes is not new, and Young acknowledged as such, noting that when he requested an update for a project a few months ago, he was told that draft legislation does exist, and it falls either within the purview of the Planning Minister or Works and Transport.

President of the Contractors Association (TTCA) Ramlogan Roopnarinesingh said the association has been adamant in its lobbying for the enforcement of building codes, even as he vouched for its members’ adherence to the International Building Code.

“We are still advocating as an organisation to have our members operate professionally. We are still advocating for a regulated building code,” he said.

President-elect of the Association of Professional Engineers (APETT), Vince Ramlochan, said that even though there are no specific TT building codes, when contractors need to design for commercial or government buildings, the Design Unit of the Ministry of Works and Transport advises that they adhere to the international building code, against which they check contractor designs.

“We would like it implemented but we don’t totally have to wait for that to happen because there is some level of implementation,” he said.

What is more concerning to APETT, he said, was the lack of consistency in the regulation and registration of the engineering profession. There is an Engineering Act, he said, that speaks to registration, but it is also not mandatory.

“Registration shows you have a level of qualification and experience,” he said.

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