When a doctor fails, a person dies. When an engineer fails many people die.
This in mind, allow me to say that it was encouraging to read the press release issued jointly by the Association of Professional Engineers of Belize (APEB) and the Association of Professional Architects of Belize (APAB) published in the Amandala newspaper of April 26, 2015.
Infrastructure is critical to the development of a country. It is the linchpin that secures a nation’s ability to generate wealth. All-weather roads, good bridges, a resilient electrical network and safe structures are all necessary infrastructure that will help Belize develop into a more productive nation.
However, those infrastructures, when not properly designed, constructed and maintained, may become a source of endangerment if they fail. The result may be injury or death to the unsuspecting public.
Too many times in the past, we Belizeans have thrown caution to the wind and have dismissed technical safety standards as “unnecessary” or “too expensive for this project”. This begs me to ask the following: What is the cost of a human life that it is “too expensive” to make sure a stadium is designed and constructed to safe standards? What is the cost of a human life to ensure that a bridge will not wash away and carry away innocent people? How much cost is “too much” to ensure that workers are in safe buildings that will not collapse on top of them?
Belize can benefit from the experience of other countries where government agencies did not properly implement the required safety standards, monitoring and certification of public works that then failed; bringing injury and death to civilians. We can avoid those situations because more than ever we have certified and experienced town planners, architects, engineers and technicians who are qualified to make sure that our infrastructure is not compromised by shoddy construction techniques, improper supervision, insufficient material or poor design.
After all is said and done the members of APEB/APAB need to be applauded for their public statement which we hope is an ongoing commitment to ensure that we are safer in our buildings, on our highways, at work or at play. And when regulations or safety standards are being usurped or abandoned then we hope the engineers, architects and technicians of Belize will take action to invoke the law.