Apr 05, 2016 News
-despite damning IDB report
In the wake of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report that concludes that the Cheddi Jagan
International Airport (CJIA) $150M expansion project would not bring the expected benefits to Guyana, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has stated that the administration has little choice but to press on.
He made this comment yesterday, when asked whether the IDB report would cause Government to rethink the project. The IDB report had stated that Guyana has limited chances of developing the traffic necessary to be called a hub.
However, in justifying the expansion project, the previous administration had pointed to the current space constraints and “growing tourism” as the reasons. Guyana’s geographic position at the northern tip of the South American continent had also been touted as ideal as a hub and a link to Asia and Africa.
Minister Patterson emphasized that the concept of the expansion came from the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration and was inherited by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
He reiterated that while still in opposition the coalition had been highly critical of the expansion project, as no feasibility analysis was ever done to determine its merits.
Patterson noted that he did not support the concept that CJIA would become a hub through the project, but what he did support was the extension of the run way. According to Patterson, the short runway would constitute a high risk and would be reflected in high insurance rates.
The Minister said that Guyana was committed, and that the arrangement had been refashioned to make it more in line with what the country needs.
The original components of the expansion was the extension of the runway from the original 7,500 ft to 10,800 ft to accommodate the Boeing 747-400 aircraft; doubling the Aircraft position from four to eight; installing eight Passenger boarding bridges and installing approximately 300 cameras to boost the CCTV system.
However, Government had stated that additional expenditures was not made known, including a new car park for some US$2.7M, equipment in the terminal for US$16M, the upgrade and replacement of navigational aids for US$1.3M, the perimeter fences and security lights for US$565,000, among others. Government had, however, announced that this was capped.
The original expansion project cost had generated numerous controversies. The US$138M contract with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) had excluded the company from taxes, duties, royalties and fees of all kinds normally imposed by Guyana.
The contract was heavily criticized for its numerous concessions to the Chinese Contractor and was inked on November 10, 2011, days before the then president, Bharrat Jagdeo demitted Office.
Last year, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, revealed that more than 70 percent of the money for the project had already been handed over to the contractor and expended. However, it was stated that CHEC was at the time behind schedule.
The IDB report, which was done by air transport specialist, Andy Ricover, and released last November, states that based on the lack of infrastructure and scarcity of origin and destination (O&D) traffic at CJIA compared to Guyana’s larger and more connected neighbours like Brazil and Venezuela, it would be unrealistic to think of CJIA developing into a regional hub, notwithstanding the political will.
It points out that both Guyana and Suriname have limited options to develop non-stop services to most destinations in South & North America and Europe. In the report, it was explained that there are two kinds of hubs.
One works as an entry gateway to the country, distributing passengers to other local destinations. There are also those that work as a connection between two or more international flights, passing by a connecting hub.
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