[Guyana] CJIA expansion on track
- Patterson says $346.5 million needed for two more air bridges
28 April, 2018
Even as he sought to assure taxpayers yesterday that they are getting value for money on the US$150 million Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson said an additional $346.5 million in supplementary funding is being sought for to see the project to completion.
On a tour of the facility, now expected to be fully opened and commissioned by the end of December this year, Patterson informed that his ministry has asked the National Assembly to approve $346.5 million in supplementary funding for the purchase of two additional air bridges for the airport.
“The contract has the two air bridges in it. I had always said we would make provision for an additional two. The supplementary is for the additional two,” Patterson said when asked by Stabroek News for clarity on the matter.
The request for additional monies formed the basis of the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) boycott of yesterday’s tour.
“This current tour is nothing but a smokescreen, a shameless attempt to (extract) $346.5 million… from the public purse to finance what was already paid and catered for, in the original `fixed price design and build contract,’” opposition Member of Parliament Juan Edghill said.
“From the figures provided by the minister on Financial Paper No. 2/2018, one can easily do the math and conclude that when this project was redesigned by the APNU+AFC administration, just on the alteration of moving from eight (8) air bridges to two (2) air bridges the contractor benefitted from US$5 million or an excess of $1 billion Guyana dollars in avoided cost,” he added.
While not citing Edghill’s position, Patterson pointed to the PPP/C’s boycott, saying that if the party felt that there was any deceit regarding information he has given on the project, yesterday’s tour would have given them an opportunity to make those concerns publicly known.
“You can come here and prove your worth. That was the objective of the tour,” Patterson said.
The CJIA Timehri facility is set to be transformed upon completion of the project. The runway will be extended from 7,500 feet to 10,800 feet, and there will also be a new Arrivals Terminal building, two boarding bridges, with the provision to install another two at a later stage, a renovated Departures Terminal, additional duty-free shops and increased parking facilities.
The APNU+AFC government while in opposition had been critical of the project and had voted against funding for it in light of their concerns about the high cost to taxpayers and the potential relocation of some 1,500 residents of the Timehri North area.
But when it took office in 2015, the project was re-examined and after week-long discussions with the contractor, the decision was made to move forward with extensions and renovations rather than demolition and rebuilding, resulting in better value for money.
The discussion with the contractor, China Harbour and Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), resulted in a US$46.8 million claim made by the company being reduced to roughly half of the amount. Some of the issues responsible for the claim included design changes and cost overruns.