Our ancestors, many moons ago, voyaged across the Atlantic on the likes of the Elisabeth, Louisa Baillie, Whitby, Hesperus and Glentanner among other vessels. With the advent of technology, we now have air travel, allowing us to access distant lands in a matter of hours.
The Cheddi Jagan International Airport previously known as the Timehri International airport is well known to all Guyanese. Editor this facility was opened to commercial traffic since 1946. Over the years changes and developmental works were done to modernise this airport. The PPP/C, with a vision for the future of Guyana with new and developing sectors such as tourism and hospitality with our specific brand of eco-tourism; oil and gas; Guyana being a gateway to South America and the bridge that connects South America to the Caribbean understood the necessity for this transformational project. This was not a stand-alone project, it was accompanied by investments in an international brand hotel like the Marriot; the provision of cheap electricity with the Amalia hydro-electric scheme which with the significant reduction in the cost of electricity would have stimulated agro-processing and manufacturing; the need to accommodate larger aircraft to lower the cost of freight and to have access to wider markets for our many non-traditional exports. This interconnected group of projects was totally misunderstood and incompetently handled by the APNU/AFC Administration when they came to office in May 2015. This has left us as a country with a situation where we are getting less and paying more. This design and build fixed-priced contract had envisioned eight boarding gates (air bridges), a significantly extended runaway, new terminal buildings, state of the art check-in and communication facilities, adequate conveyor belts to accommodate simultaneous multi arrivals and concession areas to facilitate transit and other global travellers.
This incompetent group renegotiated the contract, giving us two air bridges and has now found extra money from the national purse to buy another two at a higher price, in a most questionable manner. The PPP/C has already indicated that we intend to call for a “value for money” audit on this project. Are the Guyanese people getting the right value for their monies spent?
Regardless of all these questions, the biggest question I have today, Editor, is the real completion date. On the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s website, they have a lovely description of the project and I quote; “The Cheddi Jagan International Airport Expansion Project will be a behemoth in infrastructural development. With a new scheduled completion timeline of December 2018…”
The shock of December 21 may still be upon Minister Patterson and he may not have changed his calendar, but we are in 2019 now sir. The project, as of December 31, 2017 had spent US $111.79 million (81 per cent) of the US$150 million allocated to the total project cost. When is the project really expected to be completed since another deadline has been missed? What will be the final price? Will they be attempting to appropriate further funding? These are all questions the already burdened taxpayers of this country need answers to, someone please help.
Editor, I call on the people of Guyana to pay close attention to this cabal during their lame duck period of governance. Where their caretaker status must be emphasised. This must not be a case of taking a transformational project and turning it into a cash cow to facilitate campaign funding. At the time of the PPP/C Government, they said the project was overpriced and unnecessary. The APNU/AFC, with their visionless approach, took it over and the world is now a witness to their mal-administration and incompetence. We have an incomplete, under-renovation smaller airport with fewer facilities at the time of penning this letter.
Bishop Juan A Edghill