Therrestra Limited Jamaica, the contractors working on the construction of the Blue Diamond Royalton hotel, where sections of a building collapsed and injured construction workers yesterday, is not registered with the Professional Engineers Registration Board (PERB).
The fact that the company is not authorised by the body charged under the Professional Engineers Registration Act, with responsibility of regulating the practice of engineering in Jamaica, is of great concern to PERB board member Dr Noel Brown, who made the revelation to The Gleaner yesterday afternoon.
"I have checked the records and that company is not registered with the PERB," Brown said.
Labour Minister Shahine Robinson confirmed that Therrestra Ltd, an overseas division of the Dominican Republic-based Therrestra Group, was granted work permits before her appointment as portfolio minister and that technical officials from the ministry have been doing periodic inspections of the Royalton Negril construction site.
A search of the Companies Office of Jamaica database shows that the company was registered in October 2005.
Brown is, however, contending that the company has not sought the approval of PERB during the past 11 years in which it has been operating in Jamaica.
He also argued that work permits granted by the Ministry of Labour to foreign firms are not enough to authorise them to carry out engineering and construction works in Jamaica.
"We have told the ministry that they cannot offer work permits to these people without sending the information to us so that we can assess. This is critical because, what if the ministry gives out a work permit and then when we look at their qualifications, we don't deem them qualified to carry on engineering work in the country?" he asked.
Brown further argued that Therrestra is in contravention of the law and that its action highlights long-standing issues that PERB has had with the practice of foreign firms operating in Jamaica solely on the basis of work permits granted by the Ministry of Labour.
"With that work permit, you can't do engineering works. If you get that work permit, what you need to do is come to us and then you apply to carry on engineering work, because that is the only board that can authorise anyone in Jamaica to do engineering works. It's the law," he said.
Up to press time, calls made by The Gleaner to Danilo Arias, director of operations for Therrestra Ltd Jamaica, went unanswered.