The APNU+AFC Coalition Government is now seeking to secure $346.5M in supplementary funds from the National Assembly for two additional air bridges at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Even though the original CJIA Expansion project signed under the PPP Administration, with the Chinese Export/Import (EXIM) Bank granting US$138 million and Guyana adding US$12 million, would have covered the instillation of eight air bridges.
Upon ascending into office in 2015 the APNU+AFC Administration put the project on hold; but following discussions between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and the contractor, Chinese company China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), it was announced that the project would be continued but redesigned. Among the redesigning elements was the reduction of the air bridges from eight to a mere two.
Following a parliamentary tour of the airport expansion works, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said the intention all along was to have four boarding bridges when the project is completed.
“The contract has the two air bridges in it. I had always said we would make provision for an additional two…and I’ve made it clear that it was our intention on opening we would have four air bridges. So, the supplementary that you would’ve seen tabled is for the additional two,” Patterson stated.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), now in Opposition, has often criticised the Coalition Administration for redesigning the project, which was a fixed price design and build contract.
In fact, the Opposition boycotted the parliamentary tour, and its Public Infrastructure spokesperson, Juan Edghill, said in a statement on Wednesday that in addition to the site visit being a charade to camouflage transparency, it is also being orchestrated to lay the foundation for seeking additional funds from the nation’s purse.
The Opposition Member of Parliament further reminded in his missive, of the Coalition parties’ “hostile, diatribe and near sabotage of this project” when they cut in excess of $10 billion combined allocations in the 2013 and 2014 Budgets.
Moreover, Edghill went on to call out Government for back-pedalling on its design changes made to the fixed price design and build contract.
“We are aware that significant alterations and changes have been made to the design. It is our intention, and we will, at the appropriate time, call for a performance audit of this project, to ensure that the Guyanese people got value for their money and what was paid for was delivered.
“The Minister of Public Infrastructure, on numerous occasions in the National Assembly, failed to answer questions or deliver information promised in regard to this project. His usual style of much rhetoric is now commonplace, with very little to show,” Edghill asserted.
However, the Public Infrastructure Minister, in response to the Opposition, said that progress of the expansion works shows that Guyana is getting “value for its money”, noting that the purpose of the visit was for the Members of Parliament to have a first-hand observation of the on-going works and make comments or recommendations before the project is completed.
Meanwhile, Patterson also divulged at the tour that other aspects of the project that were not included in the contract would require more supplementary funds in the future.