Guyana: Airport Expansion: Quality checks delay CJIA handover

Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA)

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) project is on its way to be finally handed over. According to Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MOPI), Jaipaul Sharma, the project is 93% completed and is expected to be handed over to the airport authorities by the first quarter of this year.

The sod was turned for the airport in early 2013 but the US$150M project has been dogged by one problem after the next. It was first scheduled to be handed over in late 2015.
The completion date has been pushed back several times since then.         

The Minister explained that while there is a projection for the handing over of the airport, the fact that there is a process with various entities involved can affect the projected date for the handover.

“There is a contractor, and a consultant (Code International Consulting Firm) that we work with… If the consultant has an issue with the materials or the work that is being done, then there is a back and forth between all entities involved and that can make the process longer,” he explained.

He also said that this has been the procedure throughout the project and while it prolongs the process, it is necessary to ensure that the best quality of work is done.

All of the internal structures have been completed and temporarily handed over to the airport authorities for operation.
According to Sharma, the airport continues to make remarkable strides.

At a recent press conference, the Minister pointed out that the airport’s revenue has moved from approximately G$1 billion in 2015 to G$3.4 billion in 2019.

This, he said, is a “remarkable achievement”, for the airport.

CJIA also recorded a seven percent increase in international passengers with an overall four percent increase, in 2019 with a total of 22,533 more arriving passengers than its 2018 record.

Among other plans for 2020 are the installation of self-check-in kiosks and passenger tracking software, a shopping mall adjoining the terminal for local products with enhanced CCTV, along with the construction of a cargo facility and the installation of an automated car parking system.

The airport project has been major scandal since announced in late 2011, shortly before Bharrat Jagdeo ended his Constitutional second term in office.

Guyana learnt of the project via a report in the Jamaican press.

The Coalition Government has made it clear that it has found little or no record of preparatory work, including a number of critical studies that would have guided the project.

In fact, the Chinese contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was forced to abandon the runway extension on the northern side and shift to the opposite end after workers encountered poor soil conditions.

This was after millions of US dollars would have already been spent.

An analysis of the initial project found that many of the costs as listed by the contractor were highly inflated.

The Coalition Government itself came under fire after it drastically reduce the scope of works, which saw a decision to gut the old terminal building and renovate it, instead of altogether building an entirely new one.
The project itself is being investigated now by the Audit Office.

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  • kamtanblog  On 01/18/2020 at 1:42 am

    Bureaucracy or corruption or both !!

    Shameful ! Disgracefully so !

  • Jasmine  On 01/18/2020 at 7:34 am

    I think it’s more along the lines of corruption. Another one of the PPP works of wonder. Any plans for expansion should be put on the back burner until this phase is fully completed and signed off by the present government. Hopefully they will use a different contractor for the next planned phase.

  • brandli62  On 01/19/2020 at 7:48 am

    Sounds like the Guyanese version of the new Berlin airport saga…. Chinese contracts have a bad reputation in Europe. They typically underestimate the project costs, get the contract, and then blackmail the government to pay for inflated extra costs otherwise they’ll walk away from the project. The next government should see that the project gets completed as agreed and then stay away from Chinese contractors.

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