Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, says he has committed to having the modified contract for the US$150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) renovation released to the public.
A copy of the contract had been handed over to Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill.
Jagdeo had said that Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson doesn’t want to release the contract because it would expose major issues that could implicate him.
“You will see the differences. Patterson is neck deep into this thing.” Jagdeo stated, during a press conference last Thursday.
When Kaieteur News asked Edghill back in July to provide a copy of the document, he had said that he should not have to provide a copy of the design. He had added that Patterson, as the originator of the document, should be the one to provide it to the press.
This time around, Jagdeo told Kaieteur News that if the Opposition does have the contract, which, by Edghill’s admission, it does, then “I’ll ask Edghill to give it to you.”
“This contract belongs to the country.” Jagdeo said.
Yesterday, November 10, 2019, marked eight years since the contract was signed. To this day, the project, shrouded in secrecy, controversy and claims of mismanagement, has not been handed over to the Government.
The matter has brought three governments – those of Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, and David Granger – under intense scrutiny, as the project spans all of them.
The matter also calls into question the commitments of both the coalition Government and the Opposition to transparency.
Jagdeo on Thursday compared his record with contract disclosures to that of the current government. He said that though his record was not that great, it was better than this Government’s. The Jagdeo administration had kept several contracts about major public investments secret, and had at times touted confidentiality clauses as reasons for non-disclosures.
Now, heading into what some have dubbed “the mother of all elections,” even this Government is yet to release the modified design for the airport, as well as the Bridging Deed linking the 1999 Stabroek Block contract to the revised 2016 Production Sharing Agreement (PSA).
The Opposition Leader discussed Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson’s avoidance of a public disclosure of the [CJIA] contract, stating that “[Patterson]’s mortally afraid that the people will put the two contracts side by side… and they will see what a disaster he has foisted on the country with that airport… I came through [the airport] again and I’m totally disappointed. It’s like a rehab project.”
When Kaieteur News interviewed Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, in August last, he had said that the Contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC)’s work and materials used were at substandard quality, and that the government was doing everything it could to get those matters fixed.
The US$150M Chinese-funded and built project is missing a lot of things, and is yet to be handed over since the contract was signed in 2011. It was originally supposed to be finished in late 2015/early 2016, but that deadline kept being pushed back.
The APNU/AFC governing coalition had said that when it took over the project from the PPP government in 2015, there were major shortcomings in the design that needed to be fixed. Several aspects of the design were stripped.
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