Builders bill in the works

A committee launched by the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing is putting the finishing touches on a Builders Bill aimed at creating more accountability in the construction industry, and to protect those who hire contractors, said a GIS press release.

Members of the Builders Bill Review Committee have been working on legislation since October 2005 and were to present the Bill to the ministry by the end of January.

In its review, committee members are incorporating earlier drafts of legislation prepared over the past 20 years by Government and the Cayman Islands Contractors Association, the release said.

Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks, Chairman of the committee, explains: ‘The purpose of the Builder’s Bill is to license contractors in various categories according to their skill level. When hiring a contractor the public will know in what category they are licensed to perform duties.

‘For several decades, sub-contractors such as electricians and plumbers trades were required to be licensed, but not the main contractors. This proposed law will address that anomaly.’

There are five proposed categories for contractors defined in the bill: general contractor, civil contractor, building contractor, residential contractor and sub-trades contractor.

Steve Hawley, President of the Contractors Association, supports the legislation. ‘The public needs a formal system to help them assess a contractor’s skills. Contractors will enter in at specific levels, but will retain the ability to be graded at higher levels as they acquire skills.’

Throughout the review process, the Committee has provided regular updates to the Ministry.

Central Planning Authority Chairman Dalkeith Bothwell said the bill is long overdue. ‘Hurricane Ivan gave us examples of why this legislation is needed. If we look at the high number of development applications approved in the last year and what is in store for 2006, this legislation will arrive just in time.’

He added, ‘This Bill will enhance the construction industry in the long term and benefit the growth of the development industry. Government is eager to resolve any outstanding issues related to this area and to prevent further problems arising.’

Planning Director Mr. Ebanks said that a builder’s board would be created to support the new legislation. ‘This will be the first time the public will have a formal avenue to file grievances against a contractor,’ he noted. ‘Enforcement officers will be hired to investigate grievances on behalf of the board.’

This board will also set and regulate standards in the industry, and be responsible for grading the contractors, the release said.

Mr. Hawley has been involved in previous drafts of the Bill, and commented that this is the best version so far. ‘This draft balances fairness to contractors and protection of the public,’ he said.’

Pullout:

‘Hurricane Ivan gave us examples of why this legislation is needed. If we look at the high number of development applications approved in the last year and what is in store for 2006, this legislation will arrive just in time.’

– Dalkeith Bothwell, Chairman, Central Planning Authority

Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks; President of the Contractors Association Steve Hawley; Trade and Business Licensing Board Chairman Dale Crighton; Chamber of Commerce representative Eddie Thompson; Central Planning Authority Chairman Dalkeith Bothwell; Public Works Director Max Jones; Employment Relations Director Walling Whittaker; Assistant Building Control Officer Michael Pratt; Chief Building Control Officer Emerson Piercy; Mr. David Ritch Chairman of the Immigration Board and Legal Counsel from Legislative Drafting Department’s Bilika Simamba.

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