By Kathryn Campbell
The Town Planning Committee has a new board. Public Works and Utilities Minister the Hon. Alfred Sears announced the members Monday, December 6th in the conference room of the Ministry’s headquarters on University Drive. In attendance was: Bacchus Rolle, Parliamentary Secretary; Luther Smith, Permanent Secretary; Charles Zonicle, Director of Physical Planning; Gary Francis, Chief Legal Counsel; Sharon Pratt-Rolle, Undersecretary and Gregory Butler, Deputy Permanent Secretary.
Minister Sears, under whose purview is the Committee, thanked the newly appointed members. “There is a lot of work waiting for you. We have confidence that you will serve our Commonwealth well,” said Minister Sears. The Committee includes: Keenan Johnson, chairperson; members – Glenda Roker, Aaron Jones, Pierre Charlow, Ralph Hanna, Arthur Jones, and Bishop Denczil Rolle. In his remarks, Minister Sears emphasized that the function of the committee is critical.
He said, “It is the gateway for the development of the built environment of The Bahamas to ensure that structures which are built are in compliance before the sanction is given (preliminary) to the building code and other building requirements, as we seek to ensure that our built environment is sustainable and resilient given the challenges that we face in a hurricane zone.”
On behalf of the Committee, Mr. Johnson expressed thanks to the Minister for his confidence in them to serve. “We know that we have a great task at hand and we are ready to get to work.”
Mr. Johnson said the committee’s key priority is to address backlogs. Moreover, Minister Sears said the Ministry has been conducting a review of the country’s building code for which Cabinet has approved international consultancy to provide technical advice. “Upon the conclusion of that work the Ministry will be meeting with stakeholders within our country getting the input – collective wisdom — of stakeholders and then will take a revised building code for legislative consideration.”
Furthermore, Minister Sears said following Hurricane Dorian in 2019, a technical team from the Ministry made an assessment of Abaco and East Grand Bahama, which were devastated by 185 mph winds and flooding over 20 feet in areas, from which Craig Delancy, a Building Control Officer, has compiled a report.
“It demonstrated that [with] most of the buildings which were almost totally destroyed there was a lack of compliance with the code. So, in addition to ensuring that we have a robust building code we have to also ensure that we develop a culture of compliance, an effective inspectorate so that the building code is observed in the construction of our built environment. The work isunderway and we will be using an international consultant to guide that process,” said Minister Sears.