Jun 01, 2019 News Comments Off on US$150M CJIA renovation… Harmon “will talk to” Patterson about releasing modified design
Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, said that he will talk to Minister of Public Infrastructur
e, David Patterson, about the release of the modified design for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) renovation.
That project, at US$150M (and counting), is one of the biggest investments in Guyana’s history. It was started by the Jagdeo-led administration in 2011. In 2019, the completion of that project is four years past the first completion date. That date has been pushed back multiple times.
In the interest of public accountability, Kaieteur News asked Harmon yesterday whether the government would release the modified design. He said that he will “rely on the judgment of the Minister with responsibility for Public Infrastructure, Minister Patterson. If in fact, it is a matter of public interest and concern, the Minister will bring that to Cabinet.”
He added that, “Once Cabinet makes a decision on the matter; I’ll certainly report it to you and to the nation.”
Kaieteur News had uncovered that Jagdeo’s administration agreed to a contract with the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), with bloated prices for materials and works.
Patterson also said that Government found a mere seven percent of the work done, with CHEC laying claims to more than half the money – US$90M.
Instead of a brand new terminal building for the Arrivals and Departures along with a longer runway, there was renovation of the old terminal buildings and a smaller structure for the Arrivals.
The number of passenger bridges has been reduced from eight to four and the fancy, energy–saving glass roof that CHEC promised is yet to be seen.
The Opposition insisted that Government illegally modified the fixed price contract with CHEC.
One would have expected that, even with those bloated prices, the US$150M price tag would still have been able to cover a decent renovation.
But then, in 2015, when this government assumed office, it modified the design. That modification was not announced when it was done. When it was finally known to the public, government claimed that changes had to be made to correct severe issues in the original plan.
It seems that time after time, the airport encounters some new issue. One day, it was flooding. Another, it was air bridges that were out of order. It is unclear what deficiencies were corrected, as these issues still exist. And throughout this, travellers have been required to pay an additional fee, which will automatically be included in the ticket price, from July 1, 2019.
During a recent press conference weeks ago, Kaieteur News posed the question to members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) whether they would demand the release of the modified design, in light of the structural issues CJIA currently faces.
Cathy Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications, said that Patterson would be “on top of” any issues being faced at the airport, and that she would raise the question with Patterson.
Minister Hughes had stressed that Guyana has a terrible history of corruption, but that this administration is committed to changing it.
The Opposition Leader, last week, demanded that government release the modified design. Yet, there has been no response from Patterson.
It is unclear why the government would have reservations about releasing the design, but contractors have come forward saying that what has been done on the airport so far could have been done for 3.3 percent of the price tag (just US$5M).
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