The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has entered into a teaching and expertise-sharing Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Technology (UTECH). This was solidified in a formal signing ceremony recently, hosted by the Ministry at its corporate office in Kingston.
The Ministry and the prominent tertiary institution will, through the agreement, collaborate to conduct research in areas of interest including the Design, Maintenance and Management of urban centres, Local Sustainable Development Planning, Drainage design and Construction, Project Management and Costing, Sub-division design and approval. It will also facilitate the exchange of professional ideas and skills, through the training that UTECH will provide to selected staff members of the Ministry, Agencies and of the Parish Councils and the Portmore Municipal Council.
In his remarks, portfolio Minister Hon. Noel Arscott said the MOU is particularly important, in the context of Jamaica’s challenges in developing residential and commercial spaces in a structured and standard-governed manner. “Over the next year, we will work together, sharing our resources in a structured manner by way of this MOU, to develop solutions to some of the problems that still arise in civil engineering and related matters. I am happy to observe that the one-year timeline can be extended by mutual agreement, and in that spirit, I will call this an initial period of co-operation.”
Mr. Arscott also noted that the timing of the MOU coincides with the development of the National Building Bill, which, when completed for tabling, Parliamentary debate and passage, will provide the legal and regulatory framework by which all standards governing Jamaica’s residential and commercial housing stock will be judged. The Bill will help to reduce the vulnerability of the built environment, give effect to the National Building Code, encourage and ensure public safety, minimize damage caused by natural or man-made hazards, prevent the creation of new squatter settlements and promote sustainable development.
President of UTECH, Professor Colin Gyles, also noted the importance of the MOU to the expansion and development of local solutions to engineering challenges that are peculiar to Jamaica. Professor Gyles also said that UTECH is ready to support policy and legislative initiatives aimed at transforming the built environment, and noted that UTECH will be contributing to the administration of the National Building once it is approved. “The University will be one of four nominating entities for representatives on the Building Practitioners Board, which is one of the standards enforcement mechanisms in the new law. This Board will determine among other things, qualifications, requirements and other criteria for licensing building practitioners and regulating their professional conduct.”