Jamaica’s Government Looks to Improve Earthquake Preparedness

Above: Kingston (CJ Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaica’s government has officially received a new “Roadmap to Seismic Safety” that is a major step on the country’s road to seismic resilience.

The Caribbean is a seismically active region, a fact underscored by a spate of relatively strong earthquakes in recent months.

The roadmap, which outlines short, medium and long-term seismic priorities for the government, was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management after a seismic risk forum at the beginning of 2014.

“Critical to the success of the programmes that will emanate, will be the buy-in from policy makers, not only at the central government level, but at the local government level,” said Noel Arscott, Jamaica’s Minister of Local Government and Community Development.

Horace Glaze, acting deputy director general at ODPEM, said the roadmap would help place a spotlight on an issue that is often overlooked, “partly because we don’t have as many frequent events, although the Earthquake Unit reports that we have over 300 earthquakes a year, with most not felt by the public,” he said.

More crucially, Arscott said the country would soon enact a “long-awaited” new building code dealing with seismic resilience.

“We are in the final stages of tabling the building Bill in Parliament, as we have received a draft from the Chief Parliamentary Counsel,” he said. “Very soon it will be submitted to the Legislative Committee.”


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