MINISTER of Public Works, Juan Edghill, has maintained that the government has purchased two passenger boarding bridges for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) from CIMC Tianda, a company with a sound reputation.
In response to questions raised by an APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Minister Edghill made it clear that the company is experienced, since it has supplied more than 7,000 boarding bridges to over 300 airports worldwide.
The boarding bridges were purchased for approximately US$2 million through CIMC Tianda’s authorised dealer in Guyana, Total Solutions.
While noting that $314 million was approved in budget 2021 for the purchase, Minister Edghill set aside doubts that the purchase was done in breach of contract, as the opposition parliamentarian suggested.
Though the APNU+AFC parliamentarian contended that China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was responsible for the procurement under the current contract, Minister Edghill reminded that addendum six which was signed on December 22, 2020, provided for the purchase through the government.
Minister Edghill said the addendum directly stated: “two sets of boarding bridges (fix bridge and aero bridge) to be provided by the Employer, one of which would accommodate a Code E Aircraft.”
The latter air bridge would allow CJIA to accommodate large planes like the Boeing 747-8.
Minister Edghill said that the government moved ahead with sourcing the new boarding bridges from CIMC instead of VATABLE, the China-based company used by the former Administration, since the existing bridges had come under the microscope for many technical issues.
Minister Edghill said spare parts for those boarding bridges were difficult to source, as VITABLE had no subsidiaries outside of China.
Additionally, Minister Edghill updated the parliamentarian on the CJIA modernisation project, stating that 84 per cent of technical items were complete, while 61 per cent of quality assurance items were done.
“Foundation works for NATB Boarding Corridor are 33.42 per cent complete while the ETB Curtain Wall is 36.14 per cent complete,” the minister said.
He further said that approximately US$124 million has been paid out from the Exim Bank of China for the modernisation project, while Government of Guyana has issued payments totalling about US$9 million.
Minister Edghill said: “Due to delays in shipments and the coronavirus outbreaks within the Chinese camp, the CJIA modernisation project may exceed the December 31, 2021 contractual deadline.”
The administration, Minister Edghill said, is working to have a revised completion date for early 2022.
Since assuming office, the government was successful in renegotiating the modernisation contract with CHEC to fund an additional US$9 million in works that were omitted by the APNU+AFC.
On Sunday, Minister Edghill, accompanied by other Cabinet colleagues, commissioned CJIA’s Instrument Landing System (ILS) and the extended runway that was completed in March 2021.
The ILS will allow aircraft to land at the airport during poor weather conditions, which is typical during early mornings and late evening hours, and the runway, which is one of the largest in the region, will allow airlines to maximise aircraft payload capacity.