Apr 27, 2018 News
-Opposition boycotts MPs tour today as Govt. ask for more monies
The Parliamentary Opposition is refusing to participate in today’s scheduled tour of the ongoing US$150M expansion project at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), at Timehri.
On Wednesday, Juan Edghill, the Parliamentary spokesperson on Public Infrastructure for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) also accused the Administration of making significant changes to the design of the project with quite possible now Guyana not receiving value for its money.
The CJIA project was started under the PPP/C government but faced delays with the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), reportedly receiving the bulk of its money without the project being advanced significantly.
The Coalition Government, on entering office in 2015, halted the project to carry out an assessment. Several design changes were made, including one change for a brand new terminal building.
Instead, the old terminal building will be upgraded and new arrivals building built.
The entire project, which also includes a longer runway to accommodate wide-body aircraft, and air bridges, is expected after a long delay starting under the previous PPP/C Administration, to be completed this year-end.
The departure building will be handed over in a few weeks’ time.
According to Edghill, on Wednesday in a letter to the editor, the Parliamentary Opposition received an invitation, under the signature of the Clerk of the National Assembly, directed by Speaker at the behest of the Minister of Public Infrastructure, for a tour of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project site. The tour is set for today.
“The purported purpose of this tour, according to the correspondence, is to provide all Members of Parliament (MPs) with relative information so that a more informed discourse on the project may occur in the future.”
However, the Parliamentary Opposition said, it will not participate in any charade, of any kind, at any time, to lend any semblance of legitimacy and to camouflage any appearance of transparency to this “unaccountable administration”.
Edghill said that Guyanese must be reminded of the “hostile, diatribe and near sabotage” of the project by the Coalition when it was in the Opposition.
“This was supposed to have been, according to their interpretation, a corrupt underhand deal by the then Jagdeo Administration. The CJIA expansion project was part of a number of transformative projects, which included the Marriott Hotel, to bring in a new sector, mainly tourism with its eco brand.”
Edghill noted that Guyana was being poised to become a hub for air traffic to facilitate regional and international traffic, with one of the main effects being lower airfares and lower freight, which would have resulted in a ‘big boom’ for the export of non-traditional projects, not forgetting the Specialty Hospital with a view to provide for medical tourism.
He noted that the contract was entered into under the PPP/C Administration with a fixed price design and build contract. The documents clearly defined what was to be done.
“The expansion and lengthening of the runway, the new size of the tarmac, the number of boarding gates – eight according to the document – and the square footage of the building. It was clearly understood that all the risk, including the geo-technical risk, was to be borne by the contractor in this arrangement. We are aware that significant alterations and changes have been made to the design.”
The MP said that it is the intention of the Opposition at the appropriate time, to call for a performance audit of the project, to ensure that the Guyanese people got value for their money and what was paid for was delivered.
“The Minister of Public Infrastructure on numerous occasions in the National Assembly, failed to answer questions or deliver information promised in regards to this project. His usual style of much rhetoric is now common place with very little to show.”
The MP believed that the reason that the entire Cabinet is visiting the “PPP/C project” with an invitation to the entire Parliament is that the environment is being prepared for supplementary request and approval for more monies for this fixed price project.
And indeed, yesterday, the Government side, during a sitting of the National Assembly, tabled a financial paper for $2.5B in supplementary funds.
Part of the request is for $346.5M, which is intended to be used for the purchase and installation of two additional boarding bridges for the CJIA expansion Project.
However, Edgill made it clear that they are not happy.
“At the appropriate time, in the National Assembly, we will address these matters.
It has been three years since this Administration has been foisted on the Guyanese people and they have not a single project, of a developmental nature, to show. Is this now an act of desperation for some media coverage, to show that things are happening?
Maybe the now embattled Minister may soon invite the entire Parliament to visit two other PPP/C projects, specifically, the East Coast Highway expansion and the West Coast Demerara road expansion and upgrade.”
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