Thursday, April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL: National building code overdue

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THE COMMON plea, if not rebuke, echoed in the wake of this nation’s single most horrific criminal tragedy last Friday night in The City, is the sad lack of a national building code.
Had there been such a code to enforce, the business enterprise that was so quickly engulfed in flames from the incendiary device hurled by criminal elements which fatally trapped some employees and shoppers, may have been avoided.
In hindsight, and speaking independently and separately, to emphasise the necessity for such a code, have been Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General Freundel Stuart, Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall, and general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Sir Roy Trotman.
Together, they have done well in their public recognition of a construction flaw in the destroyed Campus Trendz store that lacked additional exits to meet emergency developments – like Friday night’s disaster.
The great pity is that this recognition – shared as it will be across the political divide – for a modern and enforceable building code is being voiced as a matter of priority in a modern Caribbean state that has been independent for 44 years under various administrations.
In this context, Barbados may well be in the so-called “bad company” of some other defaulting CARICOM partners yet to pay serious attention also to the establishment of a national building code consistent with the drive for expansion of housing and business sector developments.
The workers of the store, like a lot of other workers in the commercial sector, may not have been unionised. But the assumption is that the BWU itself would have the demand for a building code high on its own priorities in its ongoing quest to ensure the physical safety of workers at their places of employment.
Naturally, the question will also be asked of whether the head of Barbados’ Fire Service has been ringing the alarm bell with sufficient regularity to influence relevant actions by the political decision makers?
Such a question should in no way be misinterpreted as blame-shifting for an unprecedented barbaric act by an apparent new breed of criminals.
Our fervent hope is that they would be speedily brought to justice, along with those whose incendiary device recently destroyed a Chicken Galore outlet in a nasty, cowardly act of armed robbery.

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