Tonge said his statement was misunderstood

Minister of Tourism and Urban Renewal, Robert Tonge, has said he regrets statements he made about locals managing projects in Dominica on a radio show recently, saying he was misunderstood.

Giving an update on the West Bridge Project in Roseau on the Heng recently, he stated that government has chosen the right individuals to manage it. The project is managed by N.S.G. Management and Technical Services of Barbados.

“We are really happy that the government chose the right individuals especially to manage the project,” he said. “Most of the work is being done by locals, but the management is critical. As you can see, many people can attest that if this was done the local way, more than likely it would not be at the stage it’s at right now. If it was done the local way, more than likely much of the work that has been done would have been washed away.”

But Tonge’s statement did not go down well with many in Dominica and he is now backing down.

“I want to categorically state I was in no way condemning the work quality or ethics of local craftsmen, contractors and entrepreneurs. An attack on local would be an attack on myself and my family,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “I fully support local, in my current role and my previous roles I have given and continue to give tremendous support.”

He stated he regrets his statement was misunderstood.

“I regret that my statement was misunderstood, however many times when questions are answered quickly, the delivery can always be improved,” he stated. “My concern, as was articulated, was on the management of such projects. The current management company has shown that such projects can be executed on time.”

Tonge sought to explain his statement.

“My statement was meant to highlight the positives and successes of this project that was subjected to so much opposition,” he said. “Whilst the management might be foreign, the actual physical work is local and we should be proud of that. We should not ignore the tremendous positives on this project particularly the transfer of knowledge. While a few are up in arms with my statement, we as a community, local contractors included must continually work towards improved efficiency including but not limited to (1) delivering products and projects on time, (2) managing resources to avoid cost overruns. As we work together we can ensure that the best possible product from Dominica is being presented.”

He said regardless, “we as local entrepreneurs must meet or exceed the expectations of our clients by providing consistent and excellent service.”

“Once again I wish to insist that my statement was not an attack on the work quality or ethics of local craftsmen, contractors and entrepreneurs,” Tonge said.