Sep 28, 2020 News
Six point five million U.S dollars ($6.5M), or 4% of the US $150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion, will see the project getting more value for money in executing additional works on what’s supposed to be the regional transit hub. This and other details of the airport were shared by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill during his presentation to the Parliamentary Committee of Supply during Consideration of the Budget Estimates and during an interview with Kaieteur News last week.
Edghill had reported that an assessment of the airport and revised contract revealed that there has been a significant reduction in scope of works from that in the original US$138million contract signed before May 2015.
Initially, he had stated that the contract was reduced from 9,000 square meters to 4,046 by the former APNU+AFC administration. However, the former Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, had refuted Edghill’s statements by revealing that it was the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), in April of 2015, who had reduced the airport’s reduced scope of works.
Notwithstanding these conflicting stories, Edghill indicated to Kaieteur News that the remaining 4,954 square meters would be constructed through the allocation of US $6.5M.
These additional works should lead to the materialisation of a new terminal with eight bridges, extended runway and aprons, along with power generation and fuel storage facilities and office spaces Edghill said.
Notably, the current CJIA expansion only holds four air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures rather than the initial eight, a 450-seat departure area, escalators and elevators, in addition to an incomplete extended runway, which was supposed to measure 400 and 690 metres at the respective ends.
Additionally, an old terminal building that was marked for cargo was revamped and only one of the new sections was built. It also lacks a new apron that was supposed to support the additional four air bridges. The issues, lacking infrastructure to not stop there as there are no plans for a new parking lot valued at GYD$122M, a cargo facility, a commercial centre, an office area and a parking lot.
Transparency advocates have argued that these projects should never have been left out in the first place, as contractors have told Kaieteur News that the amount and quality of work being done to renovate the port since it began could have been done for US$5M – 30 times less than the US$150M (and counting) taxpayers are expected to foot.
Though the contract for these additional works has not yet been awarded, Minister Edghill highlighted that the works are “needed” since the current state of the $150M airport is heavily deficient and dysfunctional. This view was recently supported up by President Irfaan Ali, who recently visited the airport and told the contractor that he, nor the citizens of Guyana, will accept the poor condition of the facility.
This contract was signed in 2011 under then President Bharrat Jagdeo, and then passed through the truncated presidency of Donald Ramotar. When the David Granger administration took over in 2015, it claimed that it was a very defective plan and needed adjustments. Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson had said that upon assumption of office, the APNU+AFC administration had found that only seven percent of the work was completed, with claims for US$90M (more than half of the contract sum), casting aspersions on the PPP/C’s management of the project.
Even with the sub-standard work, former Junior Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Jaipaul Sharma, had revealed that the contractor spent more on certain aspects of the project than was laid out in the contract. However, he wouldn’t say whether the contractor spent more than the contract sum.
Sharma had also said that the former APNU+AFC government would have decided whether to penalize the company for “breach of contract”. The former minister had already admitted to such a breach in 2019.
The previous government had also said that it would not spend a cent more on the project, but that proved not to be true, as a change order seen by this newspaper indicates that the administration made at least one additional disbursement of GYD$6.8M for the “extra time delay and costs for the prolongation of the project” by 807 days. The order also indicates that it was a payment, not for the first, but the third claim made by the contractor.
As the country waits on the completion of the project which fell way below expectations, taxpayers will have to repay a loan of US$138M to China.
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