$1.3B more needed to complete CJIA project

…almost 5000 metres left undone by APNU/AFC – Edghill

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill on Friday disclosed that the new Administration will have to foot a bill of some $1.3 billion to complete modernisation works on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) after the former coalition Government negotiated the agreement that would cause Guyana to lose significantly.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill

While wrapping up the 2020 Budget Debate, new information came to light on the state of affairs on the airport project. With over US$150 million already paid to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), less than half of the total area has been upgraded – leaving almost 5000 metres undone. The Granger-led Government, the Minister said, is squarely blamed for these “atrocities”.
“The original contract of the airport record that we will have 9000 square metres of construction. You know what we ended up with in the revised contract? 4046 metres. Less than half. Not only the fact that less than half was done, they have now saddled us with a bill… Apart from the US$150 million that was already spent, plus the $2 million for the additional airbridges, we will have to find, we will have to find another $1.3 billion to fix the Cheddi Jagan International Airport,” he revealed.
It has been two years since the deadline for completion was slated for 2018. When the coalition Government came into power in 2015, the project was put on hold, but after discussions between former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and CHEC, it was later announced that the project would be continued but a number of downgrades were done to the design.
Some US$138 million of the allocated costs was funded by the EXIM (Export-Import) Bank of China while US$12 million was spent by the Guyana Government. It was not expected to surpass that sum but Guyana had to stand additional expenses.
At the end of August, the Minister toured the facility where it was noted that they were immediately seeking to have the works rectified, to model what was proposed in the design. An evaluation shows that Guyana received a “renovated” airport, rather than what was bargained.
“The concerns are many. The problems are many but I think what is of great importance now is to see that this project is completed in keeping with the agreed scope that they have signed on to…Outside this arrangement is the bigger picture of how this project has been mismanaged and I would dare say corrupted. What should’ve been a new airport has turned out to be a renovated airport,” Edghill was quoted as saying.
He had slammed the former Administration, signalling that their renegotiation with the contractors has resulted in the current predicament.
He added, “It is not that the contractors don’t want to work. It is because in the remodelled contract that was done by the Granger Administration left a large section of work out of the scope. The price didn’t change.”
The CJIA in its downgraded design expansion has four less air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures than the initial eight, a 450-seat departure area, escalators and elevators, in addition to an incomplete extended runway, which was supposed to measure 400 and 690 metres at the respective ends.
An old terminal building that was marked for cargo was revamped and only one of the new sections was built. Meanwhile, a new apron that was supposed to support the additional four air bridges is non-existent. There is also no space for enough duty-free shops, restaurants, car rentals and other facilities.
The Minister strongly lamented that CHEC was supposed to design and complete all works before handing it over to the Guyanese Government. However, they have completed some of the works, while key areas like the runway remain undone.
“There are works to be completed on both sections. This runway was supposed to be completed since December 31, 2018…I am not granting any further extension on anything. This afternoon, we have to agree on timelines for completion. We are way past liquidated damages. Anything that could’ve gone wrong has already gone wrong.”
The Minister asked the former Government and sitting Opposition to explain this blunder to the Guyanese people, which wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
“They should go under the tent and explain to people…Paying more and getting less,” he said at the budget debate. (G12)