GUYANA: President Ali to investigate the US$150M decade-long CJIA renovation scandal…

I will not accept this project …President Ali tells Chinese contractor, other stakeholders

Years of anger over the ongoing US$150M-plus expansion at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, culminated yesterday with an angry President Irfaan Ali making it clear that Guyana will not be accepting the project as is.

President Irfaan Ali with Chinese ambassador to Guyana, Cui Jianchun.

During a meeting and tour of the project, the president also vowed an investigation will be coming and that it is unacceptable that a fixed-price project could be so drastically reduced in scope.


The highly-charged statements would have been made in the presence of Chinese ambassador, Cui Jianchun, and come days after a high-profile visit of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who batted for his country, urging that Guyana use US companies more.   

The Donald Trump-led United States has been on icy terms with China, with the battle even spilling over to ownership of social media apps like Tik Tok.

It was the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Ali’s party, which had launched the project in 2011 with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) being named the contractor. It was supposed to be completed in August 2015.

This is the fourth presidency that the project has gone through, starting with Bharrat Jagdeo in 2011, and continuing with Donald Ramotar, David Granger and now Ali.

President Irfaan Ali and other stakeholders in one of the passengers’ bridges. The bridges are not in use now because of unsafe foundation which is being fixed.

From changing the designs to a renovation of the old terminal building instead of a new one as committed to in the contract, Guyana would have watched helplessly as the Chinese contractor steam-rolled on the project, with very little whimper coming from the government of day until now.

Yesterday, President Ali made it emphatically clear that the Government of Guyana will only accept the CJIA expansion works, as it was outlined in the original contract.

In addition to the Chinese ambassador, there were representatives of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the Project Consultant and the Project Manager.

“I am holding everyone responsible; the contractor, the consultant, the project management team…this is not acceptable for the Guyanese people. In this current position it is very clear from all that I have seen and heard, and from all the questions asked, it is very clear that something is horribly wrong. The right decision at this moment is that we cannot accept this,” President Ali stated.

His statements came following an update from the Project Manager of the CJIA Expansion Project, Carissa Gooding.

During the presentation, Gooding along with the project consultant failed to answer key inquiries as posed by the Head of State, which included the outline of the original contract, and the details of the revised scope of works and costs attached.

In addition, President Ali sought clarification on what grounds the decision was taken to omit aspects of the project. Gooding confirmed that aspects of the airport expansion were downplayed and omitted while monies were diverted to other aspects of the project.
We need answers.

“We need answers as we have decisions to make,” President Ali insisted yesterday.

According to a government release of the meeting, the representative of CHEC also informed the Head of State that after the contract was signed; there were other works which needed to be done following an assessment.

However, his assertions did not impress the president.
“No, no this is a fixed-price contract, and that is not how it works. A fixed-price contract means that you examine all the works which have to be done before you sign on to the contract. So please, let’s get that clear,” President Ali said.

The Head of State enquired as to who made the decision to pay the contractor for delays, and was informed that this decision was made under the former Government.

According to the president, this was shocking.

Damning Story
“This tells a damning story… there are more questions than answers from this presentation.”

The original contract would have seen the completion of 17,000 square feet of work, but currently there is only an existing 6,000 square feet – a difference of 11,000 square feet. In addition, key aspects of the project were either omitted or poorly completed.

President Ali said that an investigation is likely to be launched into the entire airport expansion project.

He also pointed to the importance of a joint approach to the realization of the project. He maintained that the works completed do not reflect the monies spent.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador agreed that the provisions in the original contract have to be honoured.

He pointed to the importance of the meeting and pledged that he will play his part to ensure that the project is completed.

Following the project update presentation, the Head of State along with the representatives from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) toured the facility to inspect several areas including the departure area and an air bridge.

As part of the original contract, the CHEC was expected to tear down the existing terminal building, and construct a new one which could accommodate eight air bridges. But what the contract actually did was facilitate the refurbishing of the terminal building and installation of only four air bridges. There are also a myriad of other issues plaguing the facility including a malfunctioning sewerage system.

The original designs had allowed for a brand-new terminal building with state-of-art equipment, information monitors and a host of other modern bells and whistles.

However, it appeared earlier on that CHEC did not do its soil and other analysis which would have determined what needed to be built and at what cost.

It was forced to abandon the lengthening of the runway on the northern end, during to the swampy area, and shift to the southern side.
The Chinese company has received billions of dollars of concessions for a contract that was overpriced.

Some contractors said that they could have built a new terminal building below US$20M with everything, including escalators and elevators and electrical items.

CHEC, the Chinese contractor, after being awarded the CJIA contract in 2011, would have built the privately-owned MovieTowne and completed it, and now on the way with Pegasus Hotel expansion which started just a couple of years ago and now significantly completed.

In the meantime, the CJIA expansion is dragging, almost a decade later.


Added by Guyanese Online

CJIA Airport Expansion and Modernization – Original Design. The new terminal will cover an area of16,000 square metres.

Source: Airport Technology – Projects

Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) is located in Timehri, 41km south of Georgetown; the capital city of Guyana, South America. An expansion and modernisation project, which started in January 2013, is currently underway at the airport and is scheduled for completion by August 2015.

The Government of Guyana (GoG), the airport’s owner, awarded China Harbour Engineering (CHEC), a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), a $138m design and construction contract for the CJIA expansion project in November 2011.

The overall cost of the project is estimated to reach $150m. Up to RMB 825m ($130m) is being funded by the Government of China through the EXIM Bank of China. The GoG is further investing about $5.9m to facilitate the acquisition of supervision consultancy services for the expansion project.


Guyana’s second largest investment in 20 years … Robeson Benn defends sole tender for airport project

The entire process leading to the signing of the contract in November last year (2011) is above board and falls within the laws of Guyana, Works Minister Robeson Benn, has asserted.
He was discussing Guyana’s second largest investment in this country in 20 years.
Speaking with the press in his Kingston location yesterday (July 03, 2012), Benn disclosed that his office is in the process of preparing advice to the Cabinet of the findings “…and there are no hurdles. The financing is already in place”.
The government official insisted that the US$150M price was arrived at after “torrid” negotiations and “back and forth” meetings between China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the contractor; Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) officials; engineers and administrators of the Public Works Ministry and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
“It was not like this came out of a hat or something.”
In November, days before the November 28 General and Regional Elections and before President Bharrat Jagdeo stepped down, Guyana learnt through the Jamaica press that Guyana has signed a US$150M contract with CHEC to rebuild the CJIA, complete with a new terminal and longer runway. Jamaica is where CHEC has its regional headquarters.


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  • kamtanblog  On 09/24/2020 at 3:13 am

    Smells of rotten fish !

    Corruption or gross incompetence?

    My jury out

    Kamtan uk-ex-EU

    • Linda  On 09/24/2020 at 7:08 am

      Both corruption and incompetence Kamtan!!!!

  • brandli62  On 09/24/2020 at 11:38 am

    The CJIA airport expansion project was conceived and signed by the Jagdeo government in 2011. I have heard not a peep from his side regarding this epic story of failures and possible corruption. Why is he silent and keeping a low profile? He is usually outspoken about any other issue.

    • kamtanblog  On 09/24/2020 at 12:26 pm

      Jagdeo was a graduate in economics
      from Moscow uni …trained when to
      not comment ! Why employ a dog and bark !
      His lackeys will “bark” he will do the biting…
      dangerous as a “snake in grass” …
      Guyanese beware be aware !


  • Georgy Porgy  On 09/24/2020 at 3:19 pm

    “Why employ a dog and bark”… it Kamtan,

    • kamtanblog  On 09/24/2020 at 5:03 pm

      Georgey porgey pudding and pie
      Kiss the girls and make dem cry
      Wen de girls want to play
      Him run away !

      Hee haw !

  • Seelocgan Beharry  On 09/25/2020 at 12:35 pm

    Old Guyanese saying:” If you make yourself a jackass, people will ride you.” As i mentioned before years ago, if contract obligations are not lived up to, we cannot take the Chinese companies ( i.e., the Chines Govt.) to court to honour their contracts. We lose and still we keep making the same mistakes and get the same disastrous results over and over again.. We should look at who signed these contracts on our behalf and bring them to court, maybe then Guyanese would take their jobs seriously.

    • Winston  On 09/25/2020 at 6:20 pm

      Well that should be an interesting investigation by Ali because the contract was signed by the Jadeo led administration. Go to Kaieteur News dated June 6, 2012…”PULL BACK AIRPORT CONTRACT NOW”——AFC.

      All you need to know is in that article except for how many palms were greased!!!

  • Douglaman  On 09/27/2020 at 12:07 am

    The CJIA Airport Scandal:

    As a resident of Guyana, I was very excited in 2011, to hear that the CGIA (airport) was going to be upgraded and extended with air bridges for passengers… Basic stuff for most modern airports.
    What raised my eyebrows was the signing of the US150M contract was done in Jamaica, by Minister Benn, just days before that 2011 Elections…. and it was the Chinese contractor who announced the deal. It looked to me like a typical Jagdeo deal made in secrecy, liked the US$200M failed sugar-factory deal at Skeldon Estate on the Courantyne

    This airport project has been in the news on a regular basis since 2012, and most of the news was negative. It is obvious that the Chinese company China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) did not fear repercussions for its inability to perform….. I WONDER WHY.

    The PPP government will try to blame the APNU-AFC coalition for the failure of CHEC to honour its contract… Politics as usual. Maybe the coalition was not vocal enough from the start in exposing the failed status of the project from 2015 when they took office… I WONDER WHY..

    Here in Guyana we do not trust politicians to be honest and work for the best interest of all the people. This is just another example..
    The people get PLAYED while the politicians get PAID… in Chinese, Indian or Middle Eastern banks… untraceable.

    • kamtanblog  On 09/27/2020 at 2:14 am

      Disgraceful behaviour !
      When Corruption is at highest and lowest in society it becomes a “pandemic” !
      Guyana’s pandemic
      Guyana’s dilemma

      Where are the anti-corruption laws to curb/contain/curtail it from spreading ??
      Guyana ….another oil producing failed
      state. In shame !

  • brandli62  On 09/28/2020 at 7:01 am

    It’s very simple that original contract was not honoured, hence no payments will be made. I hope the Guyanese government did not prepay for the expansion of CJIA…..

    • guyaneseonline  On 09/28/2020 at 9:24 am

      From Moderator:

      According to news reports that I had seen some years ago, some 70% of this contract was prepaid by the time the APNU-AFC Coalition took over in 2015.
      At that time it was reported that the work was only 10%-15% completed.

      The extended runway planned for the northern end encountered a swamp, so the extension had to be done on the southern end as well. It is obvious that extensive soil analysis was not done before the project was started.

      • brandli62  On 09/29/2020 at 12:01 pm

        Why would one pay for contract work not carried out? How stupid is that?

  • brandli62  On 09/28/2020 at 7:59 am

    If you want to uncover the corruption follow the money…. Who signed the contracts on behalf of the government? Check their tax declaration and monitor their bank accounts.

    • Yvonne-K  On 09/28/2020 at 1:54 pm

      Brandli….. Ali will never do that. Sooner or later this will be swept under the carpet. The investigation announcement is just lip service. Can you imagine the ants nest that will stir up?

      • brandli62  On 09/29/2020 at 12:04 pm

        Yvonne, you might be right. The Guyanese people will however know what the new airport should have looked like. 4 finger docks built instead of the 8 promised in the contract can hardly be hidden to the public.

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