Ministry of Public Works Offers Free Seminar to Assist Small Contractors with Improved Construction of Homes

Pictured from left at the press conference to announce the workshops are Selena Curry, senior building inspector; Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary; Melany Roach, Director and Damian Francis, Deputy Director. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)

In keeping with its mandate to provide training initiatives and opportunities to heighten awareness, the Ministry of Public Works (MOPW) announced on Thursday that it is hosting two workshops to improve the knowledge base of contractors. “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, MOPW.

“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 MOPW 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, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, and in Freeport at the Bahamas Public Services Union Hall, Thursday, March 21, 2019. The workshops are free of charge and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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 heightened the need to provide information for planning and building inspectors on the modality of improved construction practices. Ms. Curry explained that the positioning of Caribbean countries in the heart of the hurricane belt makes the region susceptible to the impact of disasters including tropical storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.

“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 informal building sector and usually operated outside the scope of formal construction industry practices regulated by the planning and building authorities,” said Ms. Curry. “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 objective is to share the knowledge and experience acquired by Ms. Curry and Mr. Johnson with artisans, 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, [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.”

Ms. Curry outlined some of the challenges that the Ministry is faced with in construction of homes. They include: homes which are constructed too close to the boundary, problems with the layout of the property e.g. finding out a property has cavities or blow-out holes, incorrect strength of the concrete mixture, selecting the best foundation.  “All of these we would like to impart to persons to become more cognizant 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 litigations between the contractor and the homeowner,” she added.

Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary, said the Ministry believes in empowering employees. “We know that it makes a difference in our employees when we allow them to be empowered and we are doing that for the professionals, for the allied professionals and the support staff,” she said. Interested persons can register online at On-site registration is available. Space is limited.

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