Dominica "Bridgegate" Breach

Top Quote The People's Party of Dominica (P-POD) expresses concerns over the Roseau West Bridge construction project and the flouting of the Public Procurement and Contract Administration Act. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) May 05, 2016 - We the, People's Party of Dominica, stand in solidarity with the Joint Consultative Committee on the Construction Sector (JCCCS) in condemnation of the methods and processes used to award NSG Management and Technical Services, the West Roseau Bridge construction project. We are so concerned about this flouting of the Public Procurement and Contract Administration Act, that we felt it necessary to have written to the Prime Minister, requesting further clarity in his decision and dealings.

    The Honourable Skerrit's decision not to have directly responded to a letter by JCCCS, letter dated the 26th of April 2016, is haughty and demise-ridden. This attitude discourages the process of dialogue between himself and aggrieved parties, when such concerns and grievances impact key economic performing sectors. Indeed, the JCCCS composed of the Dominican Society of Architects, the Builders and Contractors Association of Dominica, and the Dominica Association of Engineers are entities pivotal for the infrastructural development and education of Dominica and its citizens. Thus, the PM's recent treatment has been injurious to infrastructural progress where local builders and contractors are concerned.

    We have identified three glaring violations of the Act. To begin with, nothing was done in accordance with Section 26, Part IV - "General Procurement Requirements and Procurement Planning," which requires all bidding and procurement processes to follow Act rules, save for exemption status. This award to NSG was not in any way exempt (The "Exempt" clause), and so all decisions had to have followed Act regulations.

    The disregard of Section 29, Part IV, amounts to tantamount flagrancy :
    29. (1) The procuring entity shall prepare clear and specific requirements relating to the goods, works or services being procured which-
    (a) give a correct complete description of what is to be procured; and
    (b) allow for fair and open competition among those who may wish to participate in the procurement proceedings.

    as indicated by JCCCS, for their concern of the awarding in secrecy of the contract. The Ministry of Works issued no notice or advertisement of the subject procurement event.

    The entire process totally ignored Part V - "Procurement Procedures," which emphasizes that a procuring entity must procure goods, services or works through open competitive bidding procedure, or any restricted bidding process. No criteria was present to use restricted bidding, because a few local firms are just as qualified as NSG to have been awarded the contract.

    We are noting a frightening pattern for contempt of legislative procedures, in regards to the dealings and operations of the Prime Minister. This is not the first time the Public Procurement and Contract Administration Act has been violated. A notable infringement surfaced in 2009, when it was revealed that multiple no bid contracts for some 2700 garbage bins were awarded to the then minister of trade's brother in the USA.

    Of further concern to us, is the derivation of the EC $18,182,400 figure as the cost for the project, and the Prime Minister's vague statement that 70% of the price for bridge construction will remain in Dominica. JCCCS arrived at a lower amount of some EC $14 million, even including quality material costs and VAT. We are worried about the subject of transparency in that, NSG has no web or media (lack of) presence, and so a complete break down or alluding to of the project was and is not attributed to them. We are aware of certain practices whereby parent contractors include exorbitant mark-ups for work done by subcontractors, over and above margins for hiring those sub contractors. In other words, the lead contractor would bill his/her client for double or more, for the work to be done by sub contractors. This is ethically, morally, and in many parts of the world, legally wrong. Without the presentation of clearly defined, pre-audited statements of expenditures and costs, it may be logical to suspect that a high mark up is being placed on the heads of local sub contractors, the victims being the Dominican taxpayer.

    At this point although we would like to see a rescindment of the contract, we realize the potential legal ramifications for contract abrogation in that capacity, and so would tread carefully in calling for it, the Dominican tax payer in mind.

    We are calling for a higher media and/or web presence of NSG, so that all their projects - past, current, and future are accessible online or by public demand. Financial, biographical, and other company information should be available as well.

    We are calling also for a complete breakdown of all costs and expenditures of the Roseau West Bridge project to be made available to the public.

    We are calling for the Honourable Skerrit to be mindful that in his position, he sets precedence for the rule of law, implicitly and otherwise, and commands the trickling down of culture and norms within his party and government. The Prime Minister then in that regard, must follow the rule of law. Failure to do so would catalytically catapult Dominica into the abyss of lawlessness and rogue-dom.

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