China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has finally completed extended works that were agreed upon with Government at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), in keeping with the deadline of June 30.
An extension to the structure will now enable larger aircraft to enter Guyana, creating additional benefits for travellers.
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill conducted an inspection of completed works on Thursday, along with officials from China Harbour and CJIA. The company was given until the ending of June to wrap up works.
“We’re seeing the full realisation of that agreement; and the Chinese Embassy remained engaged with us and with the contractor to ensure that that agreement was kept. Why I’m emphasising that the agreement for all the additional works that were done, they were to be funded by China Harbour. And that required apart from a signature, good faith, political will and an understanding of cooperation and China Harbour was able to deliver that,” Minister Edghill related.
After assuming office in 2020, Government had inspected ongoing works by CHEC at CJIA, which showed a deviation from the terms agreed upon in the initial fixed-price US$138 million contract.
In light of this, the Public Works Ministry entered into a new agreement with the company for the further expansion of the CJIA as well as completion of existing works. The agreement was pegged at US$9 million and it stated that China Harbour would solely bear the costs for the new works to be executed.
The works involved an extension of the Airport’s boarding corridor in order to accommodate two more passenger boarding bridges, providing the Airport with a total of six boarding bridges capable of facilitating larger Code D and Code E aircraft. It measures approximately 305 metres long and boarding bridges will arrive in July.
Total Solutions was awarded a $400 million contract for the supply of two air bridges. When they arrive, contractors will need six weeks to have them connected to the boarding corridor. However, this was not part of China Harbour’s scope of works, but rather the responsibility the Government.
According to Edghill, the capacity to facilitate larger carriers enables lower airfares and reduced freight charges for travellers. It also opens up the country to other destinations.
“You could get cheaper airfares because you could get wide aircraft, and in the economy of scale, you could start bringing in bigger aircraft. It would also benefit movement of products out of Guyana, the cost of air freight could go down because with wider-bodied aircraft, you can carry more produce and control price.”
He added, “That’s why we insisted on getting those two airbridges…That was important for the future of where we’re going as a country. Very soon, you will hear about other airlines that are coming to Guyana because we are negotiating that…We want the world here. You think far and wide.”
Works also included a modern airport façade, covering the full length of the departure terminal. The terminal building was extended to accommodate additional commercial space such as food courts and duty-free shops.
Additional works at the airport will see a tint being wrapped on the newly-installed façade, showcasing the colours of the Golden Arrowhead and the One Guyana logo. Another contractor is currently retrofitting the supercentre, with an expected completion time of February 2023.
Edghill reflected on the airport which was inherited from the former Administration, underscoring that it did not have the capacity to accommodate larger carriers.
He also responded to criticisms from the now Opposition to get the project completed, stating, “When you have leadership like President [Irfaan] Ali and his Cabinet and you have cooperating, understanding, and you make good agreements, you get what you want.”
Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Guo Haiyan has signalled enhanced cooperation with the Guyana Government in several areas.
“Both China and Guyana would like to enhance our practical cooperation in many fields. Infrastructure will be a priority because as developing countries, we will have the bottleneck of infrastructure and I think our cooperation will help to break this bottleneck. We’re happy to do more contribution to the development of Guyana,” the Ambassador asserted.
The CJIA Modernisation Project was supposed to have been completed on December 31, 2018, under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
The former Administration had settled for a downsized design while paying more than the allocated US$150 million. Some US$138 million of the allocated costs was funded by the EXIM (Export-Import) Bank of China, while US$12 million was spent by the Guyana Government. It was not expected to surpass that sum, but Guyana had to stand additional expenses.
The CJIA, in its downgraded design expansion, had four fewer air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures than the initial eight. There was also a 450-seat departure area, escalators, and elevators, in addition to an incomplete extended runway.
Inspections revealed that a new apron that was supposed to support the additional four air bridges was non-existent. There was also no space for enough duty-free shops, restaurants, car rentals, and other facilities.
When this Administration entered office, there was a list of 71 critical works and a master list of 1500 works that were incomplete. As of January 2021, however, all critical works were completed.