CJIA expansion: Most of 1500 listed critical items almost completed

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Public Works Minister Juan Edghill has revealed that most of the works on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project, which is on course for completion this year-end, have been completed.

Edghill made this announcement during a recent NCN interview where the Government’s first year in office was discussed. The Minister explained that the CJIA airport expansion is well advanced and most of the 1500 works from the airport’s master tracking list is completed.

“There were some 1500 items identified on a master tracking list and there were 71 critical items to get the airport functional. So, we had to get in there, get the airport functional. We have achieved the 71 critical items,” Edghill said.

“Most of the 1500 items on the master tracking list are in place and we were able to negotiate a new contract that would see the Chinese contractor putting on two additional corridors to facilitate two additional airbridges and putting in place a super structure for a commercial centre. Getting fixed what was not fixed.”

The Minister noted that the CJIA expansion was one of several projects that his Government inherited from the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), which had to be fixed.

When the Government entered office, there was a list of 71 critical works and a master list of 1500 works that were incomplete. As of January, however, all critical works were completed. The additional works amount to US$9 million. When works are complete, it is expected CJIA will have six boarding bridges and an extended terminal building and boarding corridor, among other things.

Based on the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government’s agreement with Chinese contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the expansion works are expected to be completed by this year end.

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 two more 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.

When the coalition Government came into power in 2015, the project was put on hold, but after discussions between former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and CHEC, it was later announced that the project would be continued, but a number of downgrades were done to the design.

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, has four less air passenger boarding bridges for arrivals and departures than the initial eight; a 450-seat departure area; escalators and elevators in addition to an incomplete extended runway, which was supposed to measure 400 and 690 metres at the respective ends.

An old terminal building that was marked for cargo was revamped, and only one of the new sections was built. Meanwhile, a new apron that was supposed to support the additional four air bridges is non-existent. There is also no space for enough duty-free shops, restaurants, car rentals, and other facilities.