Additional upgrades for CJIA as House approves $420M in supplementary funds

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More upgrades are in store to transform the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) into a regional transit hub as the National Assembly on Thursday approved some $420 to facilitate the installation of a modern baggage handling system.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill explained that with Guyana poised to become an aviation hub linking North and South America, the facilitates must match international standards.

“So, you have to get a conveyor belt system in because when you check in your bags, you have to take it from the counter and carry it to the scanning machine but we are putting in a conveyor belt system that when you check in your bags, it goes on the conveyor belt and go to the scanning machine… we are eliminating that hassle,” he said.

Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill

Edghill later revealed on the state-owned National Communication Network (NCN) that while the government may face criticisms for spending more on the airport, it should be reminded that the product they have now is not what they bargained for initially.

He was keen to note too that the monies being spent now are separate from works being executed by the contractor, China Habour Engineering Company (CHEC).

“We are putting in a new office building for staff. We are putting in a new building to facilitate the airline offices, as well as bonds for the duty-free shops. We are improving the airport, things that were outside of the contract with China Harbor,” he said.

Currently, CHEC is in a rush to “push works” at the airport to meet the December 31 deadline for completion; the company had sought an April 2022 deadline because of shipping delays but this was denied.

The 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 return of the PPP to office, it insisted that the project be completed to specification and that all flaws be fixed.

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