Dec 23, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Government yesterday announced that it penned a new agreement with troubled Chinese contractor, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), to the tune of US$9M for supplementary works to be completed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The catch is that the contractor will have to solely foot the bill.
Since taking office, the Irfaan Ali government has been under pressure to resolve the almost-decade long project.
CHEC was contracted to build a new and modernized airport since late 2011.
But Guyanese would have to wait a little longer as the new agreement signed, gives CHEC until end of next year.
According to a release from the Ministry of Public Works, the new works will include an extension of the airport’s boarding corridor in order to accommodate two more passenger boarding bridges, providing the airport with a total of six boarding bridges capable of servicing aircraft such as the Boeing 777, Dreamliner, the AirBus and similar trans-Atlantic aircraft.
It will also entail the terminal building being extended to provide accommodation for additional commercial space, including food courts and duty-free shops.
The extended building will feature a modern airport façade covering the full length of the Departure Terminal, the release outlined.
It stated too, that CHEC agreed to “rectify and complete all outstanding remedial works” within prescribed timelines.
The new agreement was reportedly signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Public Works Ministry Vladim Persaud, on behalf of the Government of Guyana and Liu Keliang, Project Manager for and on behalf of CHEC.
That contract was controversially signed back in late 2011 under then President Bharrat Jagdeo and later passed through the short presidency of Donald Ramotar.
In fact, it was not till in early 2013 that the sod was turned. The project chugged along under the David Granger presidency and now is being inherited by the Irfaan Ali administration.
When Granger’s administration took over in 2015, it claimed that the plan was in need of adjustments. Then Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, had said that only seven percent of the work was completed, with claims for US$90 million equating to more than half of the contract sum.
He laid the blame on the PPP/C’s management of the project.
But the adjustments made were kept hidden from the public for several years and were only revealed after consistent reports by this newspaper of several red flags related to the project.
In addition, while different aspects of the construction works were completed, several issues pertaining to quality of materials and work required dire attention. Those issues and more are listed among the reasons why the project has been delayed for years.
Now it is back with the new Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration.
The issues with the renovation only worsened over the years.
It was only in early July of this year that the CJIA sought bids for additional works to be completed.
Invitations for bids advertised indicated that the airport needs a new fence for its public car park and an access control security hut. These intended projects, which stand outside of the US$150 million contract, are not alone.
There are also plans for a new parking lot valued at GYD$122 million, a cargo facility, a commercial centre, an office area and a parking lot, all advertised last year. However, many were of the contention that the added projects should never have been excluded in the first place.
Numerous contractors had revealed that the amount and quality of work being done to renovate the port were inflated many times over…and it is all for the taxpayers.
Moreover, CHEC was caught using its equipment illegally on a private job.
Officials had reported that the company used its trucks and other vehicles and possibly even sand from the airport project on the MovieTowne construction at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.
CHEC’s trucks, more than 25 of them, were granted duty free concessions and reportedly received tax waivers on at least six pick-ups and four SUVs. Somewhere along the line, the company’s sister company, China Harbour Engineering (T&T) Ltd (CHEC) also managed to win the contract to construct the MovieTowne project in December 2014 for US$30 million.
However, it appeared that CHEC decided to use the equipment that it has stationed at the airport, including the trucks, to work along with the MovieTowne project.
Under the terms of conditions for the granting of concessions, equipment and vehicles have to be utilized specifically for the purposes it was granted – in this case the airport project.
For the airport project, CHEC was allowed use of three sandpits, two loam pits and two pagasse pits. A few pieces of equipment including a tower crane that came for the CJIA project was put into use at MovieTowne.
In fact, the MovieTowne Mall has since been completed and put into operation while construction at CJIA still awaits completion.
The company later denied the allegation and added that it sought at all times to be compliant, and it will continue to make “compliance a priority for as long as we operate in this territory.”
However, the non-compliance only continued as the months went by and the PPP/C tried several avenues in attempts to force CHEC to complete the airport per the initial contract specifications.
The lucrative concessions that the contractor benefited from were halted by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) after it failed to meet the contract obligations.
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