According to Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Jaipaul Sharma, different aspects of the constructive works are between 80 percent and 97 percent complete, but there are several issues pertaining to quality of materials and work that need dire attention.
At this juncture, the Minister said that even though there are still so many quality issues, it wouldn’t make sense to terminate a contract when the project is almost complete. What Government is trying to do, he said, is to make sure it provides as much support as necessary to fix the issues.
“Whatever the contractor needs, we have to help them.”
In one case, the contract listed a sprinkler system for the Departure terminal, but Sharma said that it did not consider the fact that the top of the terminal consists of wood, which could rot very quickly if sprinklers are installed there.
Another issue, he said, is that if a particular aspect of the works requires steel rods at certain quality standards, the contractor would bring rods from China that are not up to the set quality standards. In cases like these, more rods would have to be bought than originally intended to provide the sort of strength the better quality steel would provide.
Government has found that the contractor spent more money on particular aspects of the project than what was laid out in the contract. It is unclear whether the Contractor has spent more than the total contract sum.
Minister Sharma told Kaieteur News that the Government is still in possession of some of the funds set aside for the project, and that it will not release the funds to the Contractor until the project is completed and properly done.
Government is involved in regular meetings and is in constant contact with the Contractor, its parent company in China, and the Chinese Ambassador
The contractor has agreed, he said, to hire an American company to do testing and verification of its work.
The company is expected to assess the work and send a report to Government’s consultant.
Minister Sharma said that Government will not take over the entire facility immediately, but that it will try to take over the completed sections in parts. He said that Government intends to leave some work to local contractors, like the construction of an area for offices, duty free shops, etc.
The last reported visit to the airport by Minister Sharma, according to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s Facebook page, was July 22 last. He had been taken on a tour by CJIA Engineer, Carrissa Goodings, and the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), to inspect the progress.
It has been undergoing renovations for eight years, under three administrations. The completion date has been pushed back many times. The last completion date, according to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, was supposed to be June 30.
With US$150M (and counting) going into a renovation that some contractors say could have been done for just US$5M, Government has a lot to answer for, on that airport renovation.
It’s awful enough that the original design excluded a cargo facility, a parking lot, an office space for airlines, and a commercial centre. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has accepted some criticism for that since the original contract was inked by Jagdeo’s administration.
He has claimed that those facilities were left out so that the construction works could be procured locally.
But now, even what was left inside that original design isn’t all there. The government claimed that when it assumed office in 2015, it noted several issues with the plan as it was.
Senior Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said that Government found a mere seven percent of the work done with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) laying claims to more than half the money –US$90M. It claimed that drastic changes needed to be made. It then made those changes and didn’t even announce them until recently.
Instead of a brand new terminal building for the Arrivals and Departures along with a longer runway, there was renovation of the old terminal buildings and a smaller structure for the Arrivals.
The number of passenger bridges has been reduced from eight to four.
The Opposition insisted that Government illegally modified the fixed price contract with CHEC.
It seems that time after time, the airport encounters some new issue. One day, it was flooding. Another, it was air bridges that were out of order. Just recently, the runway lighting system experienced failure, due to a slack cable connection.
And throughout this, travellers have been required to pay an additional fee, which is automatically included in the ticket price, and has been that way since July 1, 2019.
Minister Sharma said that a meeting will be held today, and from that, he will be able to provide a progress update, as well as the funds that have already been disbursed.