Dominica PM defends award of big contract to Barbadian firm
ROSEAU, Dominica, Friday May 6, 2016 – Criticized by a local construction group for his government’s decision to go with a Barbadian company to carry out a major infrastructural project although there was enough local expertise for the job, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has defended the move and insisted that much of the money would remain in Dominica.
NSG Management and Technical Services Ltd of Barbados was selected for the new West Bridge project in the capital Roseau, worth EC$18.2 million (US$6.7 million). It includes demolition of the existing structure and its foundations; the construction of a new two-lane bridge on new foundations and approach apron roads; construction of a river training wall and dredging of the river.
The Joint Consultative Committee on the Construction Sector (JCCCS), which consists of the Dominica Association of Professional Engineers, Dominica Society of Architects, and Builders and Contractors Association of Dominica questioned why government had brought in a Barbados company, saying there were several local contractors who had the requisite experience.
The JCCCS also called for the contract to be cancelled.
But Skerrit says the decision was strategic and everything was above board.
He explained that Cabinet had charged the Ministry of Public Works and Ports with the task of commencing work on the Roseau River works as soon as possible and complete repairs and improvements in the vicinity of the city before another weather system, particularly with the hurricane season starting on June 1.
“We felt…that in the circumstance of a myriad number of emergency projects already underway across the nation, we needed a firm that would coordinate all needed works. A firm that had the technical expertise and the international links and connections to deliver a first world product to Dominica in record time. NSG was the company engaged, consulted and eventually contracted based on its demonstrated professional work here in Dominica and the satisfied endorsements of several other governments across the region,” the prime minister said.
NSG has over 40 years of experience working in the Caribbean with both government and private entities in project management and logistics for a broad array of products and services. Recent contracts include the supply of bridges to both St. Lucia’s Government and the Tobago House of Assembly; dredging and construction works for the Defence Force Naval bases in the Bahamas; supply and installation of equipment, and professional services for the new Argyle International Airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“One attraction of the NSG model, is that it utilizes an enormous amount of local labour, local products and local services. Several Dominican sub-contractors will be recruited to undertake specific specialized areas of work but, in instances where needed technology and equipment is not available locally, the company is well placed to access such in rapid time,” Skerrit noted.
He said that in his discussions with officials of the Ministry of Public Works and officials of NSG, it was made clear to him that the vast majority of the contract price – more than 70 per cent – would remain in Dominica, as payment for products and services procured locally.
“Never before has such an accord been struck with a foreign company,” Skerrit pointed out.
The prime minister urged Dominicans to give the project a chance, warning that the country was racing against time and could not turn every effort at development into controversy and chaos.
“We cannot turn every effort at development into controversy and chaos. The hurricane season is upon us and there is plenty work around for local contractors serious about working and working hard in the service of the nation,” he contended.
The project is expected to be completed within 12 months, which Skerrit said is a “fair and reasonable time within which a project of this nature can be completed”.
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