The completion of the US$150 million Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project could be pushed back to next year, with Public Works Minister Juan Edghill revealing the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the project.
In a sit down with the media after commissioning the airport’s extended runway and landing equipment, Minister Edghill revealed that the project is unlikely to be completed by this year-end given the delays in shipping and other logistics of the project that have been caused by the pandemic.
“We may not get everything in place by December 31, 2021. And that’s largely due to shipping. And the challenges of shipping as it relates to COVID. And this is not just the airport but several projects.”
“Even now if you get containers, getting the booking time and ships have become problematic. You’re waiting between 90 to 160 days after booking to get a container on a ship. This is not an excuse. But it’s the reality. So realistically, with all the delays, early 2022… by Easter,” Minister Edghill said.
The Minister further explained that the actual workforce of the contractor, presumably China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in significant down time.
“The 71 critical items that we had to deal with when we took over to bring the airport to functionality, that has been completed. The 1500 items on the master tracking list are almost completed. The remaining few should be completed by October,” Edghill said.
“In terms of the new works, you will see all the footprints of what needs to be done are in place. We’re waiting on the steel from China to put up the superstructure. The glass and everything else for the curtain wall, the corridors for the extension, all the markings and everything have been done and we’re awaiting the arrival of the shipment.”
The Public Works Ministry had entered into an agreement with CHEC back in December, which would see the contractor doing US$9 million in additional works to further extend the airport at no cost to the State.
The new works involve an extension of the airport’s boarding corridor in order to accommodate the two passenger boarding bridges, providing the airport with a total of six boarding bridges capable of servicing aircraft such as the Boeing 777, Dreamliner, the Airbus and similar trans-Atlantic aircraft.
It would also see the terminal building being extended to provide accommodation for additional commercial space, such as food courts and duty-free shops. The extended building will feature a modern airport façade covering the full length of the departure terminal.
The overall project was to be completed since December 31, 2018, under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, but has now been taken over by the PPP/C Government in an incomplete and downgraded state. In fact, the Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration had settled for a denigrated design while paying more than the allocated US$150 million.