Government intends to go ahead with the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project in light of the fact that the hefty sum of US$20M has already been invested for mobilisation, field and laboratory works, Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn said on Friday.
The project represents the latest of government’s ongoing efforts to transform and modernise the infrastructural landscape of the country; including the East Bank and East Coast four-lane highways, which are under construction.
The entire $5.6B allocated to the transport sector programme was slashed by the Parliamentary opposition during the consideration of the 2013 National budget estimates, despite the pleas of the government and the benefits that a modern airport will bring to this country. Of the amount, $5.3B was budgeted for the upgrade, expansion and modernisation of the CJIA through the construction of a new terminal building, aprons, air-bridges, taxiways and the extension of the runway by a further 3,500 feet.
Minister Benn explained that the US$20M is earmarked for China Harbour Engineering and work is ongoing however, the heavy earth moving and other works have not yet started. “It’s either we let the money go down the line and forget about it or do it, but the question is whether Guyana needs the project or not,” Minister Benn said.
He posited that the project has to go ahead. “We cannot stop the engineering refinement, and when we get the go-ahead we are now doing all those things,” he said.
This US$150M project is funded by the Government of China through the China EXIM Bank.
Minister Benn said that the budget cut has delayed the taking of certain steps between the company and Guyana, in terms of payments and signing of agreements.
The CJIA upgrade and expansion project comprises a new terminal building measuring 16,000 square meters, that will have eight passenger boarding bridges, two elevators; and CCTV and departures control systems.
The project also involves the extension of the airport’s main runway by 3,500ft to a final length of 10,500ft, capable of accommodating the Boeing 747-400 aircraft and the construction of eight International Parking Positions including a dedicated position for cargo aircraft.
The Governments of Guyana and China inked the framework agreement on October 31, 2012 for a US$130M (RMB 825M) loan from the Chinese Exim Bank to fund construction of the project. Once completed, it would ensure that the CJIA is able to meet the needs of projected traffic for several years into the future, along with becoming a hub for regional and continental traffic. It will allow the country to boast a state of the art airport comparable to any other part of the world.
Jobs will also be created as several auxiliary services are anticipated and the country’s tourism potential is likely to be bolstered with the influx of visitor arrivals. Annually an average 4,000 international flights and 600,000 passengers arrive at the CJIA, and these numbers are expected to double in the near future and by the year 2030, triple.
From 2008 to present the CJIA has benefitted from investments totaling $1B. It has a new ProVision security scanner and a modern Air Navigation System at the airport’s Control Tower that was recently commissioned.