US$9M in additional works for CJIA, at contractor’s expense

The Public Works Ministry on Tuesday entered into a new agreement with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the further expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

An aerial view of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (Mike Charles photo)

The new agreement, which is pegged at some US$9 million, was signed by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Vladim Persaud and CHEC’s Project Manager, Liu Keliang.
A statement from the Ministry said that CHEC would solely bear the costs for the new works to be executed.
The new works will 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 will feature a modern airport façade covering the full length of the departure terminal.
CHEC has further agreed to rectify and complete all outstanding remedial works within prescribed timelines. It has been agreed that all works will be completed by December 31, 2021.
Just last month, CHEC submitted a revised work plan for the CJIA expansion project, but according to subject Minister, Juan Edghill, the revised workplan still did not meet the Public Works Ministry’s criteria. Edghill had explained it still lacked certain key components the Government wanted included. Among those components were the extension of the CJIA runway and an increase in capacity for eight standing aircraft.
Edghill questioned the efficacy of additional penalties against the contractor, which was previously slapped with penalties amounting to US$7000 for every day the project was delayed.
President Dr Irfaan Ali had toured the CJIA expansion worksite back in September, and read the riot act to the contractor, consultants, and other officials. Among his concerns had been the deviation from the terms agreed upon in what was a fixed-price US$138 million contract.
CHEC was, therefore, tasked with submitting a revised workplan that included the original design, such as facilities for eight air bridges, an extended runway, taxiways, and aprons with capacity for eight standing aircraft.
Additionally, it was expected that CHEC would make provision for the reconstruction, not renovation of the terminal building. It was also expected that the company would have submitted this work plan within five days of August 28.
The 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 Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration had settled for a denigrated design while paying more than the allocated US$150 million.
It was highlighted that the current coronavirus pandemic would not be used as an excuse, since the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) would facilitate a flight to have the China Harbour employees return to complete the works they had left pending.
Once the materials and human resources are present, construction can resume. The contracting firm has already been appraised via letters of the corrective or remedial works that need to be done.
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.