Following several delays, the contractors steering major expansion works at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) are confident that they will be able to complete the project by the end of next year.
This was disclosed on Friday by Project Manager of the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Carmichael Thorne, who updated the media on the CJIA Expansion Project during a visit to the construction site.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Junior Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson were part of the delegation during the site visit along with representatives from the Ministry, the CJIA, China Harbour and the consultancy company. Shadow Infrastructure Minister and Opposition Member Juan Edghill, was also present.
The US$150 million project was scheduled to be completed within 32 months of its commencement in 2013; however, Thorne noted that the deadline was extended to December 1, 2017 since the project would have experienced several delays.
In 2012, Guyana, under the leadership of former President Donald Ramotar, had secured a US$138 million loan from the China Exim (Export-Import) Bank to fund the expansion and modernisation project, for which the Guyanese Government has injected some US$12 million.
However, when the coalition Government came into power last year, the project was put on hold but following discussions between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, and the contracting company, China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), it was announced that the project will be continued.
At the project update briefing, Thorne noted that of the US$150 million, only some US$37.3 million has been expended to date. In this amount, some US$33 million was spent by CHEC which includes US$1.9 million of local funds put up by the Government of Guyana.
As it relates to the works being done, the Infrastructure Ministry’s Project Manager told media operatives that while the initial plan was for the northern end of the runway to be extended, because of difficulties with the terrain a decision was taken to extend the runway from both the northern and southern ends in order to minimise the cost.
During the visit to the site, it was pointed out that the contractors are using a technique called ‘vibroflotation’. This is a method of improvement of non-cohesive soils by re-arranging the grain distribution pattern while applying cyclic vibrations which cause the outflow of granular soil. As a result, the compaction of soil and the pore volume reduction are obtained.
According to Patterson, this technology is new to Guyana and is being used as it has proven to be less time consuming than the sand filling process. “It’s a common technique outside of Guyana. In Guyana we would pack and pack and then compact but because of the depth and time, we decided to employ this new technique… This magnitude and height (of sand filling) was never done before in Guyana,” he emphasised.
At the southern end, Minister Patterson explained that the land needs to be build up to ‘Elevation 29’. A portion is currently built up to ‘Elevation 21’ but by next week, work will commence to take this portion up to the require amount.
However, he pointed to a massive area were works are being done at ‘Elevation 17’ level. According to the Minister, these lands will have to be built up to provide the runway end safety area, which will prevent accidents such as the Caribbean Airlines incident a few years ago.
Meanwhile, the CHEC Project Manager, Keliang Liu, outlined that they are hoping to have the lands completely sand filled by the end of year to commence actual works on the runway.
In relation to the other works to be completed as part of the CJIA Expansion project, Thorne noted that because the objective of the project is to cater for bigger aircraft landing at the CJIA, the apron needs to be expanded as well to provide parking for the larger aircraft.
With regards to the Terminal Building, he disclosed that they will be constructing a new arrival building while the existing terminal building will be rehabilitated and used for departure only. “So you will have all that space to use for departing passengers,” he remarked.
In addition, the Project Manager noted that an important new feature of the project is the boarding corridor and bridges which will be attached to the new arrival building and will lead passengers off of the plane into the terminal building.
Moreover, the media was taken around the facility and shown the new Guyana Defence Force Engineering Corps, the Police Outpost and Constabulary, and the K-9 accommodation and Kennel buildings which are mostly completed. As it relates to the other facilities such as utilities relocation and road diversions in the area, works are ongoing.