Grand Bahama Workshop on Construction Best Practices to Resist Strong Hurricane

Those involved in the construction industry were hosted to a one-day National Contractor’s Workshop on Thursday, March 21, at the Bahamas Public Service Union Hall. Officially opening the event was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works, Iram Lewis, who encouraged those in attendance to take advantage of the information shared. The event was sponsored by the Ministry of Public Works in conjunction with the Caribbean Development Bank. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

The Ministry of Public Works and the Caribbean Development Bank on Thursday, March 21, hosted a one-day workshop for contractors to assist them in improving construction practices. Officially opening the workshop was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works, Iram Lewis, who said the event was designed to assist the contractors in improving their practices from the beginning of the project to completion. Held under the theme, ‘Partnering to provide hurricane resilient housing throughout The Bahamas,’ the workshop’s objective was to educate, train and develop artisans, small contractors and building inspectors on various techniques, industry standards, best practices and products so that homes are constructed to withstand up to Category 5 Hurricane.

Mr. Lewis said, “As you are aware, in The Bahamas we are increasingly experiencing stronger hurricane force winds, high sea surges and even tornadoes that have the capacity to cause major damage to homes, especially those not built up to building code standard, which as a result can in some cases lead to loss of lives.” He urged the workshop participants to get as much information as possible and more importantly, implement the knowledge in their building practices. “It is important that you understand that this workshop training is not intended to replace our building code standard, which incidentally is one of the strongest in the Caribbean, but rather to heighten its awareness and improve areas where we have become lax.  Knowledge is power and we aim to empower you today, with the knowledge and skills to equip you in the field of construction in order that you may remain current in the construction industry.

“In order to offset some of the challenges small countries in the Caribbean region face, as a result of hurricanes, it is vitally important that you not only recognize the damaging effects of the increase in climate change but also plan to construct more resilient type housing that would be sustainable to meet the various challenges throughout The Bahamas.” Roof damage is an area of major concern where the majority of losses occur and this absorbs much of the country’s resources, he said. As a result, in July 2018, Acting Chief Architect Timothy and Senior Building Inspector Selena Curry, attended a regional Train-The-Trainer workshop in Barbados with 18 other bank borrowing members in the Caribbean. This workshop focussed on improving practices for the construction of houses and was attended by engineers, architects, planners and building inspectors. It was designed so that attendees would return to their respective countries and host workshops to train those in the construction industry.

“Categorically speaking, the housing sector is one of the major areas that is often severely affected by these natural disasters. Not only because of the havoc caused on the housing sector but the mental and economic havoc.” A large percentage of these homes, said Mr. Lewis, are built by construction companies that do not adhere to the building code either through lack of knowledge or absence of government compliance requirements. The workshop, he explained, is designed to share information on some of the most important construction practices, from obtaining a valid building permit to the completion of the structure.

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