'Grassroots' approach urged on building code

By YOURI KEMP

The government was yesterday urged to embrace a "grassroots" approach to revising the country's building code rather than the narrow internal reviews employed before.

Quentin Knowles, the Bahamas Society of Engineers (BSE) president, told Tribune Business he "feared" any post-Hurricane Dorian review will exclude industry stakeholders and be conducted internally - as had happened with the last overhaul in 2003.

"The building codes review should be a grassroots effort and all-inclusive, with as many persons at the table advising on what is best. You need to seek a building code update from the people who primarily use the codes," Mr Knowles said.

"What I don't want to happen is what happened in 2003 when the building codes in The Bahamas were last updated. It was an effort totally undertaken by the building control department at the Ministry of Works. They hired an internal consultant and that person worked primarily under the department to devise the codes. My fear is that we take a similar approach.

"The government should tap into everyone, and the private sector has enough resources to draw from. But I'm worried that the powers that be may not be tapping into them the way they should."

Mr Knowles said a new construction industry alliance was forming post-Dorian to help with the rebuilding, and warned that the building permit process needed to become far more efficient to assist with speedy recovery efforts.

"We as engineers will come in to do the heavy lifting when the reconstruction efforts truly start," he added. "But in the meantime we're looking at ways to assist the government in terms of advice and the best way forward post-Dorian. We're also working with the Bahamian Contractors' Association (BCA) and the Institute of Bahamian Architects (IBA) on this as well.

"The construction industry groups have come together to form the Alliance of Architects, Engineers and Contractors. We met last week and we have had several meetings post-hurricane, and we are exploring ways we can work together in the future on all construction-related matters. We try to meet once a week."

"We will be there when the construction begins, but a lot of things need to be done before we come in. There is a lot of planning that needs to take place."

Mr Knowles said the BSE, along with the BCA and the IBA, have prepared a paper they have shared with the Ministry of Works and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on ideas for what should be done to help the industry move forward post-Hurricane Dorian.