As a December deadline looms for the completion of repair works at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar has urged the contractor to “push” to get the job done, saying an extension is not up for discussion at this time.
Last December, the Chinese state-owned company China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) agreed to take one year, using US$9 million of its own money, to fix the problems at the airport.
But it seems unlikely that the works will be completed by year-end, largely due to problems associated with shipping brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company wants an extension to April next year.
“I want to make sure that just cause is shown [so] try your best as a company…you have 120 workers here…try to push the work,” Minister Indar told company officials during a site visit Wednesday.
“We only want to look at the issues, intervene and see what can be done so that the works can progress,” he added.
The Cheddi Jagan Airport expansion project started in 2013 but was snagged by issues, including those associated with a decision by the former APNU+AFC government to modify the design originally agreed to by the government and the company.
The PPP administration under President Donald Ramotar signed the contract with the company in 2011 and secured US$130 million financing from the Chinese the following year, allowing for the project to go ahead.
Since the PPP was returned to office, it insisted that the project be completed to specification and that all flaws be fixed. That led to the agreement last December by CHEC to fix the problems within one year.
But unable to do so, the company has requested an extension of four months.
“Right now, we are not discussing that,” Indar declared.
Carrissa Goodings, the government’s project engineer overseeing the works, estimates that 60% of the works can be completed by the end of December.
Minister Indar said another visit will be done on November 15 and once works have progressed to the government’s satisfaction, only then will consideration be made regarding the proposed extension.
When Minister Indar arrived at the site, he was met with a host of unsatisfactory issues, chief among which was the absence of the other contractor working on the expansion – CALCO.
It was only in August that CALCO had signed a $513.3 million contract for the construction of a new building attached to CJIA’s terminal building to house a conference room, offices for the airlines and the other support agencies as well as storage bonds for the duty-free shops and concessionaires.
But works that end have not been up to par, the Minister pointed out.
And it was noted that even though, the contractor was made aware of the site visit, no representative was present at the engagement with the Minister and the Chairman of the CJIA Board Sanjeev Datadin.
As such, Minister Indar pointed out that CALCO will be called in for a meeting to discuss the way forward.
“We will have to call them in for a meeting to deal with the pace of work and the issues we have with them because they were not present here knowing very well that the Minister and the Chairman of the Board is going to be on site.
“They choose not to be on-site because we have been getting the reports that all is not well,” the Minister said.