There must be a thorough investigation into the renovation done on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo, made this assertion yesterday, during a press conference.
Eight years after the signing of the contract, China Harbour Engineering Corporation Limited (CHEC) is preparing to hand over the renovated airport. But there are questions about the quality of work done by the contractor.
The project has been marred by one problem after another. The largest ongoing infrastructural undertaken by the government, it has spanned three administrations thus far. It was inexplicably modified by the Coalition Government starting in 2015, with Guyana getting a considerably smaller airport, though still obligated for a US$150M bill.
Jagdeo had said that the Airport is a “rehab project”, and that it is not a new, state-of-the-art airport, as was initially promised. He said that he believes the cause of this is collusion, involving government officials.
He had sought to dispel the notion that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is to blame for the variation of the project. A number of local contractors had expressed shock at some of the prices that the Bharrat Jagdeo administration, in late 2011, agreed to in its contract with China Harbour.
“They argued that it was a corrupt PPP contract. Now, they have decided to pay more when we are getting less,” said the Opposition Leader.
The project initially promised a brand new terminal building, with it being a two-storey structure, with glass roof and highlights. It also was meant to be accompanied by eight passenger bridges. Jagdeo said that, as it is, there will be a runway, a part of the apron, a rehabilitated terminal building instead of a “spanking” new one, and only four bridges.
Further, Jagdeo said that for the runway, it was necessary to get a “huge” apron so that eight aircraft could stand at the same time, including the much larger vehicles, but that the current set-up is not enough.
Jagdeo believes the variation was so drastic that it is now a rehabilitation project, instead of a “new” airport.
It has been uncovered by this publication that many of the costs placed in the contract’s documents signed by the Jagdeo-led government and CHEC were astronomically inflated.
For example, according to the 2011 contract, Guyana agreed that CHEC would install 36 of the 46-inch screen monitors for the Flight Information Display System.
Each was worth a whopping US$6,548.90 each ($1,310,000). In total US$235,760.40 ($47,152,080) would have been set aside for those 36 of the 46-inch TVs. On the local market, each at 2011, when the contract was signed, would have cost about $300,000.
That is only one of the many examples of the inflated prices.
Just recently, Kaieteur News reported that, under the agreement, CHEC received access to sandpits. There were no costs to the pits. The pits are located in the vicinity of the runway which was being extended.
The Chinese contractor reportedly placed a cost of $7,000 per truckload for moving sand from the pit to the runway area. This works out at a massive US$35M in sand alone that CHEC reportedly charged Guyana for the project. This is just one of many issues uncovered by Kaieteur News. Then, came the additional fees.
Effective April 1st, 2019, passengers using the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) were expected to pay an additional $4,000 in fees, thanks to the US$150M renovations.
The fees include an airport security fee for $4,300, up $1,800 from $2,500 and the passenger facility charge which moved from $1,100 to $3,300, an increase of $2,200.
The airlines operating have reportedly informed travel agents and other stakeholders.
The taxes are being collected from the point of sale and are shown on passengers’ tickets separately.
Guyana learnt of the increases via a circular dated January 25, 2019 by the CJIA to airlines.
“These charges were sprung upon us, without any consultations with us, the airline, or anyone else. What are we paying back for?” Jagdeo said yesterday.
Already inflated and with little or no explanation from Government where the money went, a number of contractors have communicated to this publication that the kind of work done at the terminal building could have been done for US$5M, as opposed to the US$150M that was paid to the contractor, through a loan Guyana has to repay.
Jagdeo said “I look at what the contract was and I look at the airport we’re supposed to receive. Then, I look at what we are getting now and it makes me angry – extremely angry that we’re being ripped off because of complicity with this ministry. This government has taken a project that is supposed to be a showpiece, an airport for the future, and shifted it into a rehabilitation project.”
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