Guyana: Renovated CJIA airport needs another terminal – CEO

CJIA … US$160M and counting…

CJIA Expansion and Modernization – Original Design

Dec 10, 2021 – Kaieteur News – As the cost for the renovated Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) project continues to climb, a second terminal will be needed within the next ten years. This is according to CJIA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ramesh Ghir.

This information was reported in a Department of Public Information (DPI) article. According to that article, Ghir noted that the multi-million-dollar upgrade that is ongoing at the airport is moving apace and he explained that those upgrades are separate from the ongoing modernisation works being undertaken by Chinese Contractor, China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC).     

Kaieteur News has reported that the airport expansion project commenced in 2011, and was expected to be a US$150M venture; US$138M financed from the China Exim Bank and $12M from the consolidated fund – taxpayers’ money. However, to date more than US$160 million has already been spent on the contract.

Ramesh Ghir CEO. CJIA

The article stated the CEO disclosed, that according to the look ahead – and based on the numbers they have – within the next ten years a second terminal will be needed. To this end he noted, “So, His Excellency (Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali) has actually pulled together that meeting and asked us to meet with investors. We have identified an area for a second terminal building, which is going to be very modern.”
Recently, President Dr. Irfaan Ali and other Government officials met with investors from Mexico and their Guyanese partner. It was reported that during the meeting the investors expressed interest in potential investments, including building a new terminal for the CJIA airport.

Moreover, according to the article, the CEO said that the additional upgrade to the airport was split into three parts. Ghir noted that efforts are being made to have the construction of the $513.7 million airport office building completed on time to house the duty-free bond, a conference room, offices for the airlines, and other supporting agencies.

Additionally, it was stated that the construction of the airport office building paves the way for more upgrades to CJIA and that talks with foreign investors have already commenced. Ghir also noted, “With that new building we are able to free up more space in the existing terminal building because maybe half of the staff is housed in the terminal. That now translates itself into concession space.”

The CEO further disclosed that the $38 million international apron and the taxiway Charlie should be completed with two weeks.
Moreover, even though the Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, had promised that the total cost for the project will not exceed US$200 million, that cannot be guaranteed now as the venture is currently a work-in-progress and the PPP/C administration is still pumping money into it.

Since Minister Edghill announced that the spending on the CJIA expansion will not surpass US$200 million–other subcontracts for works that were catered for in the original contract, but which the government now has to spend additional funds to do were signed by his ministry for the airport.

One of those projects is for the “Construction and Rehabilitation Works of the VIP Lounge and new and existing commercial buildings of the airport at an estimated cost of GY$612,500,000.Another subcontract project was estimated at GY$23,223,375 for the rehabilitation of the existing roof at the airport. In September, the Ministry awarded a contract for US$2M to a local company named Total Solutions for the supply of two additional air-bridges for the long ongoing CJIA project, some US$ 350,000 more than what was paid for the other air-bridges.

Also, a new runway was commissioned at the airport, complete with an Instrument Landing System (ILS) touted to reduce flights diversion by 90 percent. That aspect of the airport was completed at a cost of GY$518 million.

The airport was expected to be completed by December 31, 2021, but Minister Edghill said that, due to the constraints of shipping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, works might not be completed until early 2022.

The airport expansion contract was signed in 2011 under then President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and was passed through the truncated presidency of Donald Ramotar. When the David Granger administration took over in 2015, it said that the very defective plan needed adjustments. The then Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, had said that upon assumption of office, the APNU+AFC administration found that only seven percent of the work was completed. Even with the sub-standard work, former Junior Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Jaipaul Sharma, had revealed that the contractor spent more on certain aspects of the project than was laid out in the contract.

However, he had not shared whether the contractor spent more than the contract sum. Sharma further said that the former APNU+AFC government would have decided whether to penalise the company for “breach of contract.”

The previous government had also stated that it would not spend a cent more on the project, but that was not the case as a change order seen by this newspaper indicated that the administration made at least one additional disbursement of GY$6.8M for the “extra time delay and costs for the prolongation of the project” by 807 days. The order also indicated that it was a payment, not for the first, but the third claim made by the contractor. As the country awaits the completion of the project, which falls way below expectations, taxpayers are still obligated to repay a loan of US$138M to China, which forms part of the contract sum.

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