Chinese contractor to ‘answer’ for woeful delays in US$150M airport expansion project

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The Public Infrastructure Ministry is unhappy with the progress being made by China Harbour Engineering Ltd (CHEC) on the US$150 million Cheddi Jagan International Airport Extension Project and has since decided to haul in the contractor for a meeting to address the unsatisfactory issues.

CHEC workers engaged in pile driving recently on the US$150 million CJIA Expansion Project

CHEC workers engaged in pile driving recently on the US$150 million CJIA Expansion Project

According to a statement issued by the Ministry on Wednesday, among the concerns to be addressed is the fact that CHEC is still to submit the final construction drawings of the new arrival terminal building.
This complaint has been a recurring problem with the CHEC team which has time and again failed to meet deadlines in submitting critical designs for approval.
The Ministry has also identified among other problems, the keeping of the agreed schedule for the completion of the project and has signalled a proposal which would see the “fast-tracking of the project via simultaneous works to the runway/new arrival terminal building and renovations of the existing terminal building.”

ADDITIONAL MANPOWER

The Ministry has proposed to CHEC that works on the new terminal be conducted in parallel with works on the existing building and runway, but said too that it is cognisant that “this proposal will require additional manpower and equipment to achieve the December 2017 deadline.”
Among the other contractual concerns listed by Government with regards to the controversial Chinese contractor – CHEC – is the timely delivery of concrete onsite; the procurement schedule for equipment and the progress of the works on the generator room and fire pump station.
The Ministry reported Project Manager Carmichael Thorne as saying, “We are progressing but we can do better… There are areas we can improve on and these are areas that the contractor can improve on by upping the efforts.”
CHEC has since been asked to provide supporting documents detailing the designs, plans, schedules and assigned resources before the scheduled meeting.
Thorne said that the CHEC’s management has already been contacted with the intent to have unsatisfactory areas rectified.

NEGATIVE PUBLICITY
CHEC recently found itself on the receiving end of negative local publicity after it was discovered that the Chinese company had inked an agreement with a Surinamese-based company for the supply of some 300,000 tons of stone for the CJIA project, at a price of US$7.5 million.
The news was met with consternation on the part of local suppliers that have since lodged complaints with local representatives, coupled with the increase calls for Government to have the arrangement re-negotiated since preference should be given to local suppliers.
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, had also come in for intense flak after he told media operatives that Government was essentially powerless to revoke the contract since it was a private arrangement between CHEC and the Surinamese-based company.
The Public Infrastructure Minister had also come out in defence of the arrangement saying that CHEC had opted for the cheaper alternative in the supply of crushed stones for the project.
President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) had also come out in support of greater protection for local content in the undertaking of such large projects.
The US$150 million Project has been one of the bug-bears of the current coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration ever since it was in Opposition.
It had argued, among others, that the contract was unfavourable to Guyana and was in fact borne in corruption.
After taking office in May last year, it almost immediately halted and renegotiated the project, after which it was restarted with a December 2017 completion date.

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