It is welcome news that after three decades, the crash landing of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) 523 will push all stakeholders at CJIA to use force to remove squatters who have encircled Guyana’s international airport at Timehri. It is a pathetic sight looking at those structures as you descend over CJIA. They have increased over the past three decades. It has been about ten years now since these squatters have been asked to leave. When the safety and security of the airport is at stake, the army should be called in to bulldoze these structures. This is a national security issue that Mr Ghir, Director of CJIA plans to address quickly. Hopefully, it’s not just all talk; words should be matched with action.
Some months ago, a Caribbean Airlines jet while taking off at CJIA struck some vultures feeding on some waste. This is because of the encroachment of squatters and animal husbandry around the airport. Furthermore, the arrival and departure areas at CJIA should be policed.
This is another safety and security issue that must be addressed. Every Tom, Dick and Harry just can’t push their way up into the airport in an event like that of CAL 523.
Like at airports in Colombia – Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena – there should be soldiers in watch towers with appropriate weapons to protect the runway and safety of the airport around the clock. Maybe this exists already.
Having visited over 60 countries in Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, I can say with authority that Guyana has a very beautiful and well-kept airport that is physically appealing, but internal issues such as safety and security must be addressed.
There is no doubt that Mr Ghir will hasten the completion of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) and maybe one of the two runways at CJIA will be extended to about 10,000 feet. This could help avert future mishaps. The airport has two runways. Since a ravine is 200 feet ahead of the main runway, it will be difficult or maybe impossible to extend it.
Which brings me to another issue: is Ogle International Airport capable of accommodating a runway of about 10,000 feet? Are there two international airports in Guyana where it is impossible to build a runway longer than 7,500 feet?
Guyana shouldn’t wait for a national disaster to modernize and secure Ogle and CJIA.