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Building Code Unrevised For 29 Years: Council

He said the national building code was drafted with the help of the Australian government in 1990.
23 Feb 2020 15:45
Building Code Unrevised For 29 Years: Council
Construction Industry Council of Fiji chief executive officer Vijay Naidu, real estate agent Ariff Khan and Real Estate Agents Licencing Board member Hemant Kumar.

The national building code has not been revised for the past 29 years, the Construction Industry Council of Fiji said.

Council chief executive offiicer Vijay Naidu made the comment at the second annual Real Estate Agents Licencing Board (REALB) conference in Pacific Harbour past week.

He said the national building code was drafted with the help of the Australian government in 1990.

The council will address the issue of revising the code when it hosts its annual meeting in Nadi this year.

Mr Naidu said no soft copies of the code were made at that time.

“It was manual document which was to be reviewed every five years.

“It’s now 29 years since we last reviewed it.”

Education concerns

Education and training for the industry was yet another concern, Mr Naidu said.

With the Fiji National University as the only major training facility, the industry had to contend with the brain drain as graduates flocked abroad where the monetary returns were better, Mr Naidu said.

The recognition of institutional certification was another point of contention for the council, he said.

Mr Naidu said it was difficult to make out whether graduates who had a certain qualification were equally qualified as their immediate counterparts at from smaller certified institutions.

“They can all come to me with Certificate 3 qualifications, but there’s no way of telling whether the qualifications from one institute was the same as the one provided by a smaller institute.”

The council is now working with higher-level institutions to map proper qualification criteria for each category of the trade, he said.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have never worked in Fiji, Mr Naidu said.

“The maximum pay you give an apprentice in this country is $2.90 an hour for a four-year apprenticeship.

“We’ve been asking for a review of that, but nothing has happened.”

The construction industry allowed for anyone to walk in without a trade or experience and learn on the job at a minimum wage of $3.50 an hour, as a labourer.

“So why would you go wasting your years as an apprentice for a small amount of money?

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Licensing of builders will be another issue the construction industry will discuss at its annual meeting in the months ahead, Mr Naidu said.

He said there were a host of problems surrounding builders where some took the money, but did not do the job, while others carried out that was not up to standard

“Once we license these builders, and there’s a process of doing that, we will put all licensed builders on our website for ease of reference on the consumer.”

Under the new scheme, certified builders will be found on the council website.

“Through that, you can rest assured, the banks will fund them and the insurance company will also favour them.”

Mr Naidu said there was no licenced builders in Fiji because governing legislation would have to be passed by Parliament.

Meanwhile, REALB chairman Adbul Hassan said the board had a better appreciation of the direction it would take, following the informative gathering of more than 100 real estate agents from across the country at the conference.

Exams

Mr Hassan, a doctor in affordable housing, said agents would soon have to sit exams to keep them abreast of practises and legalities surrounding their work.

Mr Hassan said the board was concerned about the increase in bogus agents who brought disrepute to the industry.

He said the board had also noted the increase in threats received by agents.

“Our powers are limited,so this is with the Police.”

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj

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