The Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (BAPE) is calling on Government to establish a National Infrastructure Authority to oversee the management of “critical infrastructure” in the country.
BAPE president, Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne said this authority would be similar to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as it would be under the control of Build Professionals to manage and administer important infrastructure professionally and efficiently.
“It has become clear to us that the old public service structures from the last century are now outdated and in need of radical review,” said Browne.
He added that the association’s major concern continues to be “the apparent lack of any serious interest in bringing a modern level of professionals to the national challenge of managing our fragile infrastructure with the limited resources at our disposal”.
Browne was speaking to The Nation Online about Barbados’ resilience should it be affected by a major hurricane or strong weather system. Over 2 000 homes were damaged by the combined so-called freak storm and Hurricane Elsa in 2021. Many of them are still to be repaired.
The civil engineer also said that with the forecast of an above-average 2022 hurricane season, he is concerned about the country’s level of national “unpreparedness”.
“To be quite honest, we just survived last year, the Government is trying to build houses for people and we are going into this year hoping that we are lucky as we have been the last year or two.
“We at the Engineers Association are scared to be quite honest about what the possibilities are. So we really don’t think that we have learnt the really harsh lessons, we have tried to patch things together and try to make people comfortable as possible in terms of repairing houses, but in terms of preparing for what can actually happen in Barbados, we have not learnt any lessons,” he said.
For decades, the BAPE has been lobbying for the implementation of a compulsory National Building Code that would establish minimum standards for infrastructure on the island to protect limb and life of residents.
However, Browne said little progress has been made, and Government’s attempt to make legislative changes to address this has not been enough.
“Over the last year, we have seen the proclamation of a new Planning and Development Act, which should have led to the building Code being made compulsory, however, the Act has been proclaimed minus a critical section 44, which is the heart of the new Act so questions remain as to how much progress we have really made.
“Truthfully, our progress in this area has been disappointing to put it nicely. It appears that we are banking our future on continued good luck rather than on proper planning and preparations,” he said. (AL)