Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal, Joanna Raynold-Arthurton, has said the collapse of a three-bedroom house in Marigot on Wednesday could have been a glitch in the contractor’s work.
The permanent secretary told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) today that while the ministry has not received an official report of the incident, it is an unfortunate one that could have been avoided if the contractor(s) had adhered to the approved plan, if there was any.
“It is the responsibility of the contractor and the owners to ensure that they comply with the building standards to construct per approved plan,” she explained.
Raynold-Arthurton stated that while the ministry is responsible for approving plans for construction, it is left up to the contractors to make certain that the specifications in those contracts are maintained to avoid future damages.
She noted that there are instances when people try to take short cuts and end up with issues later on. Raynold-Arthurton said people sometimes try to cheat the system by purchasing inadequate materials and those that are not recommended, but fail to realise the long-term damages this can cause.
“In other cases, people trust contractors to do their work, and in the end, some of them do not follow guidelines and the end result is always negative,” she added.
Meanwhile, former Chairman of the National Housing Authority Michael Flood has told sections of the media that the collapse is a clear indication that the building codes were not adhered to and has since called for stronger enforcement in this regard.
Flood said there is need for officials from the ministry to oversee not only large building construction, but those taking place in the country areas.
Fortunately, no one was at home at the time when the three-bedroom house collapsed in Marigot in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Reports are that the family moved out on Tuesday after discovering multiple cracks in the house’s structure.
A neighbour had told SNO that she heard a crackling sound then a loud “boom” at about 12:45 a.m. on August 6.
A source close to the family told SNO that the house was built about two years ago and comprised three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area, and three balconies.
Five persons lived in the house.
The source blamed the collapse on faulty construction, saying that a civil lawsuit may be in progress.
Neighbours are thankful that no one was at home at the time of the collapse because as one put person pointed out, “no one could survive this”.