Sep 14, 2021 News
CJIA US$160M and counting…
Kaieteur News – The People’s Party Progressive/ Civic (PPP/C) administration under the Ministry of Public Works recently awarded a contract for US$2M to a local company named Total Solutions for the supply of two additional air-bridges for the long ongoing Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) project.
Information coming to light, however, indicates that the Ministry paid some US$350,000 more for two air-bridges than the previous administration had paid for the same facility.
Former Minister of the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, in light of the disclosed figures for the new air bridges for the rehabilitated CJIA, recently made public the decision by his A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) to purchase two air bridges at the same specifications for US$350,000 less than what the current administration is expending.
Additionally, members of the previous APNU+AFC government are also questioning the credentials of the company.According to the document disclosed by Patterson, two boarding bridges inclusive of two fixed link extensions were purchased and installed in 2018 at a cost of US$1.6M – some US$350,000 less than the current contract indicated, that is, close to a 20 percent increase with no justification of the new contract.
The new air-bridges are for larger code D & E size aircraft. These are the wide-bodied aircraft used for transatlantic flights. Patterson made it clear, however, that the previously installed air bridges were procured to meet the same specifications.
Kaieteur News had reported, that as the cost for the CJIA expansion project continues to climb, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, recently stated that the final cost for the project is still unknown since it is a work in progress.
However, he noted that the cost would not surpass US$200M.
The Minister’s remarks in this regard were forthcoming during an interview on Globespan 24X7. Speaking of the expansion project, he said, “this was supposed to be a US$150M project; $138M financed from the China Exim Bank and $12M from the consolidated fund, taxpayers’ money.”
However, he noted that during the APNU+AFC’s last tenure, the initial agreement that the PPP/C had signed with the contractor—China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC)—was amended.
The Minister explained that Guyana was supposed to receive an airport with eight air bridges but due to the adjustments made to the contract by the previous government, the contractor only provided two of the air bridges, and two more were purchased which ended up costing Guyana close to US$2M more.
The PPP/C government, he said, recently purchased two additional air bridges, bringing the total to six air bridges. The additional air bridges were also procured at a cost of US$2M.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill on Sunday, during a commissioning ceremony for the extended CJIA runway, said that the Opposition is making a “mountain out of a molehill” since Total Solutions is a reputable company that the supplier of the air-bridges, China International Marine Containers (CIMC), directed them to.
“We went directly to the supplier for the purchase of the air-bridges, CIMC. CIMC has supplied more than 7000 air-bridges to more than 300 airports, including to the USA, Canada, Chile and other parts of the region.”
“Their local representatives who they redirected us to when we went to them, is Total Solutions. That is where we will get the after-sale services and all the things required to keep the airport and air-bridges functional,” Minister, Edghill stated.
According to Minister Edghill, the money for the air-bridges was budgeted for in the 2021 national budget.
He therefore questioned why the Opposition was unaware of that. Approved in the National Budget for 2021 is a $2.5B allocation for the CJIA modernization project under which monies had been earmarked for the provision of two boarding bridges among other expenditure for the airport project.
Minister Edghill also used the occasion to point out that the air-bridges the APNU+AFC had procured during their time in office are in fact of poor quality.
He said that the air-bridges “periodically break down” and in one case, they had to “cannibalise one air-bridge to get parts for another.”
“The issue they’re seeking to make into a big issue is the signing of the contracts for the two additional air-bridges. When we paid US$150 million in the agreement, we were expecting to have eight air-bridges. When APNU+AFC went into office and remodelled the contract and reduced the scope, we ended up with four air-bridges,” he noted.
“Two were paid for by China Harbour. And they came back to Parliament for a supplementary to pay for the additional two. So apart from that, they increased the contract amount by over $300 million for the additional air-bridges. So, we had to approve that in Parliament. The excuse they gave at the time is that the contract did not provide for air-bridges,” Minister Edghill further expounded.
He further explained that after the PPP/C administration returned to office in 2020 and came to an agreement with CHEC for the additional works, one of the things the Chinese company agreed to was to build the corridor that would facilitate two additional air-bridges.
“We, as a Government, have to provide the two bridges to adjoin to those corridors to facilitate us moving to six air-bridges. I don’t know where they (APNU+AFC) got the impression that China Harbour was supposed to provide the air-bridges. There was never any confusion in our mind. APNU/AFC agreed that any additional air-bridges besides the two that China Harbour put in would have to be paid for by the Government of Guyana,” Minister Edghill highlighted.
Based on the PPP/C Government’s agreement with the Chinese contractor, the expansion works are expected to be completed by this year-end.
The Public Works Ministry had entered into an agreement with CHEC back in 2020 of December, which would see the contractor doing US$9M in additional works to further extend the airport, purportedly at no cost to Guyana.
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