Complaints Commissioner John Epp found maladministration by the Building Control Unit during his investigation into a complaint filed by Androgroup Elevator Ltd. with regard to the inspection of new elevators.
As a result of his investigation, Mr. Epp made an unspecified number of recommendations for changes in procedure by the Building Control Unit, which is the inspection arm of the Planning Department.
Mr. Epp, however, will not release the report to the public, so the circumstances behind his findings are not known. In addition, the copy of his final report sent to Androgroup Elevator Ltd. contained a warning that the document was not to be made public and that contempt of court provisions of the Complaints Commissioner Law applied (see sidebar to this story).
The complaint against the BCU was filed last September and raised the issue of elevator safety in the Cayman Islands. Among other things, the complaint suggested that some new elevators were being inspected while others – which were later found to be deficient – were not (see Caymanian Compass articles of 27 September, 2007 and 30 September, 2007).
Androgroup Elevator also complained about what it considered were unreasonable delays in getting elevators inspected and approved through the BCU.
Mr. Epp found there was maladministration by the BCU because although it required in its elevator approval process ‘that fire officers be trained in the features of new elevators so they could assist in emergency situations, fire officers were not notified of the installation of the complainant’s elevators on island, nor were they trained in the functions of these elevators’.
Recommendations flowing from Mr. Epp’s report included: that BCU send advance notice to stakeholders when it plans in a change of emphasis of enforcement of any building code; that the BCU clearly state and publish in detail the information it required on the application for elevator equipment that was new to the Cayman Islands; and that the BCU change the application form for planning permission and a building permit to include a description of the elevator equipment to be used and that the BCU require inspectors of any aspect of a building site to report evidence of the likely installation of an extraordinary piece of equipment.
In addition, the press release states ‘a number of recommendations were made as a result: that elevator installation inspections should be scheduled two weeks in advance to reduce the risk that independent inspectors would be unavailable, and that inspection reports be completed and given to the relevant party within one week of the inspection.’
Mr. Epp further recommended the BCU centrally organise its elevator inspection process by June 2008 and that it consistently apply the elevator equipment approval and installation inspection requirements.
Another part of the Androgroup Elevator complaint dealt with what the company felt was a conflict of interest with former Chief Electrical Inspector Allan Moore, whose brother Arthur Moore owns a competing company, Cayman Elevators Sales and Services Ltd.
Although Mr. Epp found no evidence to support the conflict of interest allegations, the Planning Department admitted there was a public perception of a conflict of interest and it took steps to end the perception.
Androgroup Elevator Chief Executive Alan Roffey was guarded in his comments about Mr. Epp’s report.
‘I have been warned that publishing the Complaints Commissioner’s Report might require Androgroup Elevator Ltd. to defend itself in a contempt of court action,’ he said. ‘Whilst I might not agree that such is the case, I have no wish to test either the Commissioner, or the law on the point at this time.
Mr. Roffey did offer his assessment of the report.
‘I can say that the report states that the investigation found that the Androgroup Elevator Ltd. was prejudiced by the actions of BCU and that there was maladministration,’ he said. ‘Whilst the investigation may have only found a perceived conflict of interest in one of the officers involved, that person is no longer employed by BCU.
‘In my view the investigation into our complaint has yielded a good result for Androgroup Elevator Ltd. and the construction industry generally.’
Shortly after Androgroup Elevator filed its complaint against the BCU, the Ministry of Planning announced it would commence regular elevator inspections of all new and existing elevators, something that wasn’t done beforehand.
In addition, Mr. Roffey said Androgroup Elevator has been assisting BCU officers and fire officers with elevator training exercises this week.
Mr. Roffey added that he hoped the BCU would take further constructive steps forward to becoming the construction facilitator that the Zucker Report recommended it should be.