Quake aftermath: Lawmakers praise building code

Sinkholes at the Cayman Islands Hospital carpark following last week's earthquake. - Photo: Reshma Ragoonath

Cayman’s strict building code came in for high praise from lawmakers after minimal damage was recorded following last Tuesday’s earthquake.

“I say, by the 7.7 earthquake that hit us on Tuesday, with rarely any structural damage, that should prevail hard on the minds of us Caymanians, that what was done in implementing our building code was good for our islands, and especially good for Caymanians,” House Speaker McKeeva Bush said Thursday in an address to the Legislative Assembly.

Bush reminded legislators about the public criticism that was levelled against lawmakers when the current building codes were being implemented.

“Our people ought to take stock for something that was cursed and an administration that was accused, oh so much, of putting into place a system … and you have heard these words a lot … to hinder Caymanians and make foreigners and ourselves … meaning, elected members … rich. That is what we are being accused of. But that has been debunked,” he said.

It is a point with which Opposition Leader Arden McLean agreed.

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He said sometimes he even had doubts about how much it was going to cost Caymanians to do their “little house”.

However, McLean said Tuesday’s earthquake was testament to the code and the decisions made for the country.

“For those who criticise us here, you must first step into this arena. This is where it happens and we are capable of making errors, but certainly we do what we think has to be done,” McLean said.

Bush said his home also was impacted by the earthquake, where he found a 31-feet, 9-inch-deep sinkhole with 23 feet of water, and another which was 12 feet deep on his property.

“But there was no other damage,” he added.

The country, he said, should be thankful for the mercies shown in the aftermath of a major earthquake as there was no loss of life or substantial damage.

Bush was critical of social media complaints lodged against MLAs Barbara Conolly and David Wight after pictures were posted online of them distributing water to residents in Windsor Park who had been without water after the tremor.

Linking it to political agendas, Bush urged more consideration for the work the government is doing for the people.

“This is the mindset of our people and we ought to say so because it is wrong. So, while we are accused, the facts are showing differently and rather than our accusers doing nothing to lead to a new dawn, they are busy doing what they accuse the elected assembly of: the entrenchment of old practices – accuse, belittle, blackguard and lie,” he said.

Bush also made it clear he was not aspiring to be the leader of the country.

“Do you think I want to face that as the premier or as a member of Cabinet? I say to my people: Not me. Oh, I will strive for the next seat, and I hope they carry that one,” he said, adding he did not want to be in the Cabinet.

Bush lauded Hazard Management Cayman Islands for its efforts to educate Cayman’s students, pointing out that more than 2,000 students were briefed about emergencies such as earthquakes.

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