The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) through its Building and Construction Working Group (BCWG) is committed to working in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) and relevant stakeholders to ensure Solomon Islands has a National Building Code (NBC) that is enforced.
The enforcement of a National Building Code under the proposed Infrastructure Management Bill (IMB) safeguards proper building construction and safety standard.
As part of this effort, the BCWG, on behalf of SICCI, hosted a consultation meeting on the IMB for members of the private sector on Tuesday 13 October with the Deputy Secretary of MID, Mr. Jimmy Nuake and the Commissioner of Lands, Mr. Alan McNeil.
This consultation presented an opportunity for the private sector and representatives from State Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) to provide inputs and feedbacks on the NBC and recommendations for MID.
Mr. Nuake highlighted that the IMB will provide for the creation of Building Regulations, the adoption of the existing National Building Code (NBC) and the creation of powers necessary for the application and enforcement of the National Building Code.
“These are new concepts as there was nothing to this effect in the old law.
“This law (the proposed IMB) will improve the safety and suitability of buildings constructed, in line with the safety regulations in other countries,” he said.
Contributing to discussions, Commissioner of Lands, Mr. McNeil said while it is good the National Building Code will become law through the IMB, it is also important to have it linked to an application process which the draft IMB lacks at this stage.
“Currently there is no check against the building code, there is no check against the IMB as there is nothing about an application or compliance process in the IMB or the NBC for that matter.
“We have to link this to an application process, and rather than linking it to a whole new process, we have the Planning and Development Act and this is where the Ministry of Lands comes in,” he said.
The Lands Commissioner said the Ministry of Lands has the Physical Planning Division that looks after town planning in the country, and there is already a process of applying for and getting approval for developments through the Planning and Development Act.
“We can amend the Planning and Development Act to have small amendments to say that whatever is approved through the Planning and Development Board must also comply with the National Building Code as provided for under the IMB,” he said.
Mr. McNeil explained that Honiara and all the provinces each have their own Planning and Development Boards which make decisions on applications.
“We need to think about bringing the National Building Code into this process to ensure that anything that is approved by these respective boards must be in compliance with the National Building Code,” he said.
Mr McNeil also raised the fact that Honiara City including some provinces like Western, Choiseul and Malaita Province already have their own building ordinances.
“The recommendation is to remove these building ordinances because they will clash with the National Building Codes as they are old ordinances,” the Commissioner said.
MID Deputy Secretary, Mr. Nuake updated private sector representatives that the legal drafting team of the Attorney General Chambers is currently working on a re-draft of the IMB.
“MID is looking to update the necessary policy framework that is required to better shape the Bill for its intended purposes,” he said.
Mr. Nuake said the ministry will carry out more consultations nationally especially in the provinces with a target to bring the Bill to Parliament in the second quarter of 2021.
The Infrastructure Management Bill (IMB) once legislated will ensure that infrastructure in the country is properly managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID). The Bill will also highlight the standards in the National Building Code which MID can enforce in collaboration with the local or provincial governments.