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Works Ministry To Hold Contractor Workshops

The Ministry of Public Works (MOPW) yesterday said it will hosting two workshops on “proper construction practices” to ensure contractors adhere to local and international building codes.

“One of the core principles of this ministry is the sharing of knowledge with all of our stakeholders in order to improve the infrastructure and construction practices in The Bahamas,” said Melony Roach, director of works.

“We believe that an informed contractor base is of vital importance to the delivery of service to the country. It is all well and good for the Ministry of Public Works to do designs that are to international and local codes of practice and standards, but if the contractors do not transfer our designs into proper construction practices then all of our work would have been in vain and we would have put the safety of the general public into question.”

The Ministry, in conjunction with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will host a National Contractor’s Workshop on Improved construction practices in New Providence at Holy Trinity Activity Centre, Stapledon Gardens,on Tuesday, March 19. The workshop will be staged in Freeport at the Bahamas Public Services Union Hall on Thursday, March 21. The workshops are free of charge and will be held from 9am to 4pm.

Selena Curry, senior building inspector, and Timothy Johnson, acting chief architect, participated in a Caribbean Technology Consultancy Agency Network training initiative in Barbados recently that highighted the need to provide information on improved construction practices to planning and building inspectors.

Ms Curry explained: “This sector is dominated by artisans who construct houses that are not in keeping with building standards and codes, primarily due to their lack of knowledge and government compliance requirements.

“The housing sector is often severely affected by natural disasters in the Caribbean region, constructed by an informal building sector and usually operated outside the scope of formal construction industry practices regulated by the planning and building authorities.

“We received training in ways that we can build more resilient houses to withstand a category 5 hurricane. The hurricanes are coming stronger and we are also experiencing earthquakes. We need to now build our structures to meet these challenges that are caused by climate change.”

The workshops will share the knowledge and experience acquired by Ms Curry and Mr Johnson with small contractors, draftsmen, building inspectors, small contractors and anyone who may be building a home or interested in construction.

“We now have bankers who are building contractors,” Ms Curry said. “[They are] coming from teaching, real estate; sometimes they come with some skills and apprenticeship, and sometimes they come with as little as no knowledge. They are out in the field and they are building. The mandate is to train them, and they can go and train the lay persons on the jobs to build more resilient houses.”

She outlined some of the challenges the Ministry is faced with on home construction. They include homes that are constructed too close to the boundary, and problems with the layout of the property, such as finding out it has cavities or blow-out holes; incorrect strength of the concrete mixture; and selecting the wrong foundation.

“All of these we would like to impart to persons to become more cognisant of the construction field. They probably seem minor, but when it comes to building the house these can lead to complaints and, in some cases, litigation between the contractor and the homeowner,” Ms Curry added.

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