US$114M spent so far on CJIA expansion


By Bibi Khatoon

President David Granger and members of Cabinet at the weekend visited the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) where an update on the expansion project was provided and plans for its completion in December.

Project Manager, Carmichael Thorne disclosed that to date, US$114M has been spent on the airport while an additional US$27M will be expended before the end of the year.

Project Manager, Carmichael Thorne

US$150M is budgeted for the CJIA expansion project; of that amount, 5% will be retained to cover a defects period, he said. During his presentation, Thorne outlined that on the north-east runway, the pavement works have been completed and the contractor is being mobilized to do the marking and grooving of the runway.

He disclosed that the south-west runway is behind schedule with 65% completed but the apron and taxi-way are significantly advanced and is slated to be completed by the end of March.

Speaking of the scope of works being undertaken, he explained that the entire existing terminal has been rehabilitated for departures, providing more checkout counters to accommodate passengers during peak time.

“The existing terminal is behind- this is because of all the challenges that are posed in doing our rehabilitation and maintaining the use of the facility at the same time. The rehabilitation is not only cosmetic, it is changing the existing terminal, all the systems; the electrical, the plumbing, the communication system, all being changed out, the roofing,” Thorne said.

There is now a new arrival terminal to deal arriving passengers which is 75% completed. Thorne said the major equipment; conveyers, elevator and the escalator among others are the items left to be completed.

There is also a boarding corridor that will connect these two terminals and will also link four passengers’ boarding bridges to allow persons to board and disembark directly to the building, eliminating the need to go onto the tarmac. However, this will not be available to passengers travelling on the jumbo jets as they will be provided with buses to convey them from one point to the other.

Thorne said the plan is to preserve the artwork of the airport.

“The local contractor together with the National Trust and the Ministry responsible will determine what the actual artwork looks like but from our general proposal is; one of pieces for example, that goes into the new arrival building, is piece that depict historical sites in Guyana and a piece that depicts all of the festivals that we have,” he explained.

As it relates to the duty-free area, it was noted that the existing concessionaires will have the first option and the rest will be advertised. Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson said following the completion of a fence, persons vending on the sidelines of the airport will be asked to rent areas from the airport management.

Responding to questions from Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, he said “the idea is to have concessionaire areas and hopefully we can encourage them to move or to rent at a suitable time. So when you come in, often people going from the airport and going over these areas and so will not occur anymore. It will be a properly secured environment as it should be.”

As the project is wrapping up, the Project Manager said there should be a master plan to guide the airport in the next few years.

President David Granger in his address said it is important to have a modern airport in a time when Guyana is seeing increased arrivals from the development of its oil and gas industry. He said efforts have to be made to ensure that the minimum time someone spends in the airport should be 10 minutes.

It is the hope that with the completion of the expansion project, issues relating to insufficient public parking, overcrowding in the terminal and inadequate space for aircraft will be addressed.

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