Please allow me some space to highlight and explain the process of submitting a building plan, and point out some loopholes and a blatant building violation in the city. The first step is that plans are submitted to the clerk at the City Engineer’s Department; the clerk checks the plan to see if all the necessary documents follow; the plan is recorded and then forwarded to the area building inspector who also records the plan, and the developer is then asked to pay a processing fee, which he returns to the clerk.
At this point the developer knowing that his/her plan has been submitted, takes advantage and commences construction without waiting for any sort of approval. A photocopy of the plan is given to the contractor (qualified or unqualified) and he commences work.
But before work can commence the area building inspector should have visited the site to confirm that what was submitted is in tandem with the land requirement. Editor, here is where you sometimes hear that buildings are being constructed without an approved building plan, because the plan has to be sent to the Central Housing and Planning Authority and then probably forwarded to Guyana Water Inc because of our sewerage system.
This complete process takes a very long time (approximately six months to years) and because of this delay the developers cannot wait for such a lengthy period, and they go ahead with construction under the Nelson’s Eye of the City Engineer’s Department not knowing if their plan had to be corrected or not. If there is a correction, it cannot be done, simply because the building is already half completed or already complete. However, if the area building inspectors were doing their job this violation could not occur.
It must be noted that only plans of three and more stories within the city are sent to Central Housing and Planning; the city engineer has the authority to approve plans under three stories high.
Editor, here is an example of a blatant violation: a five-story building is being constructed at lot 260 Forshaw Street, Queenstown, Georgetown. In this case the developers have no approved plan, none whatsoever from the council. They were taken to court by the council because they were served with a cease order from the engineer’s department to cease all building works and to submit all the necessary documents in relation to carrying on the present construction, but they did not comply.
They attended court and after several appearances the matter was withdrawn or dismissed, owing to the fact that no prosecutor or any representative of the council (engineer’s department) attended court. To date the developers are continuing to construct the said building, even working at nights.
This is high lawlessness encouraged by the engineer’s department, not only in the case of this particular building, but also with many others with different forms of violation. The entire engineer’s department needs an overhaul, and an oversight committee should be introduced. Moreso, the City Engineer should be made answerable to the Minister of Local Government for all these buildings and parapet violations within the city.
Editor, a building plan should not take more than three months to complete its process, and a developer should be notified by the department via telephone, written correspondence or e-mail if their submitted plan is in order; also developers must inform the council of their date to commence construction. It is time the developers were made to submit a soil test report and a pile-driving design, and be made to lodge some compensation money with the council in the event their pile-driving causes damage in the form of cracks and breakage to neighbouring properties. In such a case the council would be in a position to assist financially with repairs to damaged property.
And speaking of soil tests and pile-driving report, I would like to know from the engineer’s department if the building under construction at Robb and Camp Streets did submit such a report and results of soil tests, and if not, how come the developer has an approved plan as the council’s Public Relations Officer Mr Royston King is claiming?
Anthony ‘Trini’ Boyce
City Works Committee