“Nothing being left to chance”– Edghill, following visit to CJIA project

…says expansion to be done simultaneously with airport operations

It is clear that government is keeping close tabs on China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), as Public Works Minister Juan Edghill made it palicid following another visit to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project that nothing will be left to chance.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill during the meeting at CJIA

In an interview with this publication on Saturday, Minister Edghill explained the purpose of his meeting with the contractor, which has a record of missing deadlines on the CJIA expansion project.
“(The visit was) to ensure they’re in compliance, because we’re not leaving anything to chance. There were 34 items that should have been completed by the 31st of December. But only 13 were completed.”
“They got to get it done. Which means other than them completing these things alone, they got to do this plus other things simultaneously. Because we’re not going to allow for slippage of time,” the Minister further explained.
Previously, CHEC was supposed to complete works on 34 out of 71 items in the expansion project by December 31. Instead, they completed only 13 of those items as of Thursday last. At the meeting, CHEC was given a deadline of January 31 to submit a Resource Allocation Plan that will provide a guide for their workplan.
“We should have the preliminary drawings for the additional works that they have to do by another two weeks, so that we can be able to confirm that by the end of March all the designs for the additional works, will be done and we’ll be into construction,” Edghill said, adding that works should be able to be done simultaneously with the regular airport operations.
Back in December 2020, the government had brokered an agreement with CHEC so that the company would undertake $1.8 Billion in works at CJIA, at no additional cost to the state. This agreement, which included additional boarding bridges and an extended terminal building, brought Guyana closer to getting its originally promised scope of works.
The new agreement, which was pegged at a cost of some US$9 million, was signed by the Public Works Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Vladim Persaud and CHEC’s Project Manager, Liu Keliang.
The new works would have also involved 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 should have also seen the terminal building being extended to provide accommodation for additional commercial space such as food courts and duty-free shops. The extended building will feature a modern airport façade covering the full length of the departure terminal.
The CJIA expansion 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, but has now been taken over by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, in an incomplete and downgraded state.
In fact, the David Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration had settled for a denigrated design while paying more than the allocated US$150 million. 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.
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. (G3)