– Minister Edghill informs House
OUTSIDE of the revision of the US$150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion modernisation project, government will need over $1.3 billion to “fix things” not included in the contract.
This is according to Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, who was at the time responding to questions from the Opposition during the considerations of expenditures for Budget 2020.
“This is a matter under active consideration. We are not happy about it, but, with our leadership and our approach to doing business, guided by principles of value for money and good partnership, we expect to get this project back on its feet to deliver to the people of Guyana,” the minister said.
He related that when the PPP/C left government in May of 2015, there was a US$138M design and build contract which was a loan from the China Exim Bank and US$12M to be provided by the government.
“This should have seen an extended runway, a new, not rehabilitated, terminal building with the capacity to accommodate eight air bridges, extended apron facilities for power generation and fuel storage – a modernised airport. When we left government that was the contract that was in place,” he said.
The project was first launched in 2011 with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) being named the contractor.
He said that the Chinese contractor had made a claim of US$37M which was not granted under the PPP/C but when the APNU+AFC office took office in 2015, under the stewardship of David Patterson, a settlement for US$23M was met, after three days of negotiation.
“The details and results are available and because of the claim that was made and negotiated under a team with the supervision of the then Minister of Public Infrastructure saw an addendum to the contract which meant US$23M was subtracted from the contact because of that claim,” Minister Edghill said.
As a result, he said many of the things that should have occurred at the airport did not happen and by October 2015, there was a new amended contract.
“Rather than having a modern airport we have a rehabilitated airport. The airlines that operate there have no space for offices that were built or remodeled, they are still operating in some old areas without proper facilities,” the minister said.
He explained that, in addition to a leaky roof, there was a lot of ‘reusing’ based on a contract that was supposed to be design and build, but later became a rehabilitation work which even increased the price of the project by more than $300M.
“What is worst is now that we have four air bridges when we should have had eight, but even the four are dysfunctional at times,” he said.
Based on a recent visit to the airport by President Irfaan Ali, Chinese envoy Cui Jianchun and other officials, Minister Edghill said commitments were made to ensure things are rectified to its desired outcome of a modern airport.
President Ali has hinted that an investigation is likely to be launched into the entire airport expansion project.
In 2011, the then PPP/C administration and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) had inked a $31.2B (US$150M) contract for the CJIA expansion.
This project was due for completion in December 2017 but the Scope of Work and deadline were reviewed by the former APNU+AFC Government, and a deadline of December 31, 2018 was set.
The project, under the PPP/C, was signed as an agreed package, including design, building and handing over. But, over US$144 million has already been expended on the project, and the work is unsatisfactory.
President Ali said he is committed to taking whatever action necessary to ensure that Guyana gets value for the money.