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CJIA expansion project to go ahead

An artist’s impression of the expanded CJIA.

The Guyana government has signaled that it would be going ahead with the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), although much more funds are needed to complete the project to international standards.

“It is a clear intention that the relationship with Government will continue and the project will not suffer because of lagging projects (with the previous government),” Minister of State in the Office of the President, Joseph Harmon was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The top government official said that conclusion was based on recent visits by high-level Chinese officials, including Wang Xiaofeng General Manager of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Americas Division.

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) had been harshly critical of the CJIA expansion project on the basis that no feasibility study had been conducted and a new terminal building was unnecessary.

Minister Harmon also pointed out that even though there is tardiness thus far with the project, it will not suffer eventual termination.

According to Mr. Harmon, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson related that the original budgeted amount of US$150M cannot suffice to complete the project in a way that will satisfy international standards for modern airports accommodating large aircraft. This conclusion was arrived at since it was discovered by the investigating unit that “several areas were not covered in the original project document.”

Harmon said those included the equipment inside terminal (US$16M); navigational aids that must be changed and upgraded (US$1.3 M); completion of the existing generator building and pump house (US$60,000); the perimeter fence and security lights (US$565,000); completing the relocation of GDF mechanical and engineering department (US$250,000); and relocating of airport operators and other facilities (US$510, 000 ).

According to the Minister of State, an estimated additional amount of US$65 M is needed to complete the project from its present state to what it should really be if it will match what prevails in terms of an international airport.

The Minister also detailed that not only is the project lagging, but “US$30,000 has already been spent, that is, about 22% of the money allocated; yet only 6% of work has truly been effected.” He added that Cabinet has already mandated that the Minister of Public Infrastructure re-assess the project “with the aim of having the airport reach international standards to facilitate larger aircraft, modifying it to be completed with available funds already identified by the Exim Bank of China.

One idea in this expansion project was to create room for Guyana to become a hub, to serve flight routes to South America, Latin America and Africa. Amenities in mind at the time included the construction of a new terminal building; measuring 16,000 meters (existing is 8,500 sq. m). This building will have among other things eight passenger boarding bridges; two elevators; CCTV (Close Circuit Television); and departures control system.