The pilot phase of the Automated Construction Permitting System, branded DevelopTT, commenced on March 4th 2020. The first month of the DevelopTT pilot saw the system accept Digital Planning Permission Applications which are within the boundaries of the Port of Spain City Corporation (T1M Planning Region). The pilot will extend to the Diego Martin Regional Corporation and portions of the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation boundaries in months two and three of the pilot.
The Ministry of Planning and Development recently caught up with Building Inspectors from the Port of Spain City Corporation to get their feedback on the DevelopTT platform.
Part One of “An Inspector’s Cut”, includes excerpts from the interview conducted with the Port of Spain City Corporation’s Chief Building Inspector, Mr. Deoraj Ramtahal.
MPD: How does the Port of Spain City Corporation view this initiative taken by the Ministry of Planning and Development and the possible impact it can have on the built development sector?
Ramtahal: We view this initiative taken by the Ministry of Planning and Development as a very positive one. The Port of Spain City Corporation has always given its support to the project from the inception. We see DevelopTT as a major way of improving how we do business with our stakeholders; developers, contractors, homeowners and our burgesses.
They will benefit from a much more streamlined and transparent process. This initiative helps us to find a way to improve the time we take to approve plans and speed up development in the city.
MPD: Have you interacted with the DevelopTT system? How has your experience been thus far?
Ramtahal: I’d say the experience has been good. The DevelopTT support team, they have been very helpful in terms of providing us with training and the facilities to make this happen. From using the system, it’s one where we can see a lot of planning has been done in terms of the way the system is supposed to function.
MPD: What is the role of the Port of Spain City Corporation in the construction permitting process?
Ramtahal: Our role in the construction permitting process is, if I’m to use the example of a relay, the anchor role. The process generally remains the same in terms of the structure and how we’ll approach the approval of any document. An applicant will first go to the Town and Country Planning Division and then from there the application is approved and distributed out to the regional corporations. That will still be a major part and function of the system and we will continue to work in that way.
What is going to change is when the application comes to us after TCPD assesses it, it now comes to us electronically. And then from there our processing times will be cut drastically in terms of the time taken on an application and the flow from one agency to another. The Port of Spain City Corporation has two divisions which deals with plans; the City Engineer’s Department and the Public Health Department. The City Engineer’s Department will still keep that role as the coordinating function of the city and manage the process in terms of what the other agencies have to feed into the system. And we then give the final issue, the final building permit.
MPD: What are the benefits the Port of Spain City Corporation can reap with the supplement of handheld tablets?
Ramtahal: A major part of the system is that applications are submitted electronically. Major plans will be submitted in PDF format and so on and those plans will be viewed on a system in the office through a laptop.
When the inspectors go to the different sites, you would need to have those plans to do comparisons which you’ll normally do in an inspection.
The tablets will provide us an instantaneous view of the drawings in comparison to when we do the site visits to check critical information related to the site and development. That portability there is a benefit for us. Right now, what happens is that those plans have to be lugged along from the office and sometimes it could amount to as many as seven sheets. Obviously, the availability of the tablet has given us more mobility in the system.
Stay connected for Part Two of “An Inspector’s Cut”.