Govt’s contract with Chinese company expires

CJIA expansion

…project incomplete

Despite Government’s budgetary request of $346.5 million in supplementary funds towards the purchase and installation of two additional air bridges for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in April last year, taxpayers are slated to hand out even more funds as the project remains in an incomplete state.

An artist’s impression of the expanded airport at Timehri

In a recent interview, Junior Public Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson said that the contract with the Chinese Company, China Harbour Engineering (CHEC), came to an end on December 31, 2018.
In 2012, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, Guyana secured a US$138 million loan from the China Exim (Export-Import) Bank to fund the expansion and modernisation project, for which the Guyana Government has injected some US$12 million. However, when the coalition Government came in to power in 2015, the project was put on hold, but after discussions between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and CHEC, it was later announced that the project would be continued.
Minister Ferguson told the media that additional works are still to be carried out on the multi-billion Guyana dollar facility.
“There are additional works to be done and those works are still being conducted,” she said. The Minister, who has responsibility for the Aviation Sector, did not elaborate on what the exact aspects of the works were and neither did she give a deferred end date regarding a stipulated timeframe in which the project would finally see completion.

Minister within the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Annette Ferguson

“I cannot say at this point in time,” Ferguson stressed.
In mid-December 2018, Minister Ferguson had revealed that $65 million was approved to be spent on the airport’s upgrade of its technology which was geared to be able to track the weather, among other aspects. She had also explained that the new technology will assist pilots in tracking the weather patterns to make better landing decisions as the airport was making the transition from manual to digital. This $65 million was in addition to the $346 million which had been sought earlier in 2018.
Upon completion, the airport is expected to have four air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures; a 450-seat Departure area, escalators and elevators in addition to an extended runway catering for larger categories of aircraft. However, the extension of works into 2019 comes in disparity to an earlier commitment by Government where it committed that the works associated with the expansion would have been completed by the last quarter of 2018.
Initially, the project was scheduled to be completed within 32 months of its commencement in 2013. Later on, officials were optimistic of the project being completed by 2017. The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), which when in Opposition, had cut the funds the then Government – People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – had allocated for the CJIA expansion.