Engineer: TT buildings not quake ready

“As far as the law is concerned there are no legally enforceable codes in Trinidad and Tobago,” Francois, a member of the codes committee of the Association of Professional Engineers said in an interview this week. “But the Ministry of Works has guidelines for what codes they should be implementing. Unless you meet those guidelines, the Ministry of Works should not approve your building.”

But while there is regulation of buildings constructed, he noted that in some cases buildings are constructed which do not meet code requirements. Also some codes may be unsuited to this earthquake zone.

“One of our biggest problems is enforcement supervision during construction to ensure compliance in this respect we are very weak,” he said.

“There are many buildings in Chaguanas, for instance, that are poorly designed in terms of earthquake approvals. I have seen numerous buildings that do not meet code requirements. The Ministry of Works can make recommendations–but one of the problems that I have with the Ministry of Works is enforcement.”

He noted that there has been a plan for a unified building code in Trinidad and in Tobago which would factor in earthquake requirements for the region.

“For example, the British code is accepted, but they do not deal with earthquakes because they don’t have earthquakes often in Britain,” he said.

He argued that both the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando General Hospitals should be retrofitted because they were not built in conformance with modern codes designed to cater for earthquakes.

“I think we should be worried about the older buildings in Port-of-Spain,” he said. “We should be very concerned particularly about the hospitals. My strong recommendation is that we should have seismic retrofitting.”


"Engineer: TT buildings not quake ready"

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