Govt declines deadline extension for CJIA works

The Government of Guyana has declined a request by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for an extension of the deadline to complete ongoing works at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, inspecting ongoing works at the CJIA (DPI Photo)

Shortly after taking office last year, the Dr Irfaan Ali-led Government had entered into an agreement with the contractor for additional works to be carried out at the airport. Having missed several timelines already, it was agreed that these works would be completed by December 31, 2021.
However, CHEC officials who are overseeing the modernisation works at the CJIA recently wrote Government, requesting a deadline extension to April 2022. But during a recent visit to inspect the works at CJIA, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, indicated that Government would not be entertaining any such request.

Ongoing construction works at the CJIA (DPI Photo)

“We’re not discussing any extension…right now, we’re not discussing that. I want to make sure that just cause is shown, and try your best as a company – you have 120 workers here – to ensure that you push the work… We’re not agreeing to [the April extension] right now, we’ll have to discuss that,” the Minister indicated to the contractor on Wednesday.
According to Indar, the engineers will be leaving by mid-November, and they will have to do a certificate of completion to show the progress of the works. At that time, he noted, Government would look at the remaining works to be done before giving any further consideration to a deadline extension.
“At that point, we will know exactly what [is the] percentage completion, what are the issues, and then we will have that discussion. But not now,” the Minister contended.
However, while the works were expected to be completed by year end, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had said last month that, with challenges in the shipping industry due to the global pandemic, this may not be realised. In fact, the Ministry’s Project Manager, Carissa Goodings, explained that the contractor’s request for a deadline extension was as a result of two major causes of delay, including freight. The other relates to underground utilities that were encountered, hence hindering the progression of works.
Back in December, the Public Works Ministry had entered into an agreement with CHEC for the contractor to undertake some US$9 million in additional works to further extend the airport at no cost to the State.
The new works involve an extension of the airport’s boarding corridor in order to accommodate two more passenger boarding bridges, providing the airport with a total of six boarding bridges capable of servicing aircraft such as the Boeing 777, Dreamliner, the AirBus and similar trans-Atlantic aircraft.
It would also see the terminal building being extended to provide accommodation for additional commercial space, such as food courts and duty-free shops. The extended building would feature a modern airport façade covering the full length of the departure terminal.
In the agreement, CHEC further agreed to rectify and complete all outstanding remedial works within prescribed timelines.
According to Minister Indar, there were over 1500 defects discovered at the time, but the contractor had undertaken to correct 800 of these. Currently, these remedial works are about 88 per cent completed.
The visit of the Minister within the Public Works Ministry to the airport was prompted by several complaints received about delays of the ongoing works.
In fact, apart from the expansion works, there are also delays with another project being undertaken at the CJIA – the construction of a new building to house offices for airlines and other support agencies.
That $513.3 million contract was awarded to CALCO Construction in August. The Minister would be meeting with the company’s representatives sometime today to iron out the issues.
Despite these, however, Minister Indar is confident that the CJIA expansion project would be completed.
“When we first came into Government, we had a lot of reservation, but constant discussions with the contractor, meetings, inspections, we have [project managers and supervisors]… so a lot of work and energy went into getting it moving along… It’s not going the speed that you would like it go, but it is going, it is progressing,” he asserted.
The CJIA Modernisation Project was supposed to have been completed since December 31, 2018 under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
The Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration had settled for a denigrated design while paying more than the allocated US$150 million.
The CJIA, in its downgraded design expansion, had 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.