A recent assessment of public buildings in the Kingston Metropolitan Region has revealed that several are not earthquake resistant.
The assessment, carried out by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) found that of 77 critical facilities in the Corporate Area, 61 per cent are susceptible to earthquakes.
Of the 37 police stations assessed, 65 per cent were not earthquake safe. Of the seven fire stations surveyed, 61 per cent also fell in that category, along with 57 per cent of the 33 health centres included in the assessment. The figures have reinforced calls for an updated national disaster plan and a revision of the country’s building code.
On Wednesday, Local Government Minister Noel Arscott disclosed that both issues are being addressed. The promulgation of the revised bill was “far advanced” he said, adding that it will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the legislative year, on March 31.
Arscott asserted, “with certainty”, that the revised bill “will improve the efficiency of the building approval process.” He said the bill will, among other things, establish a natural disaster fund, address legal evacuation as well as identify high risk areas and steps to be taken. The assessment was carried out using a system developed by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).