Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn says that there is a good chance that government re-tables the expenditure for the US$138 million expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri (CJIA) at the very next sitting of the National Assembly and called on all sides to work to make this project a reality.
“Under supplementary papers there may be things coming back just now. There is a chance that some issues [connected to the airport expansion] may be coming to the House at the next sitting on December 12,” he said.
The opposition cut the entire sum proposed his year for the CJIA expansion during the consideration of the 2013 budget estimates.
Speaking to Stabroek News on Saturday, Benn said, “Well you know we are working. The test pits are being dug to refine the material handling. So the physical work on the ground has started with respect to the removal of the soils… [to] strengthen and build up the runway extension for 1,000 metres.”
He said that this expansion project by way of the runway extension and the building of a new terminal building is an imperative for Guyana’s national development. “Without it, we will be much much poorer…we will not keep ahead, we will not sustain our economy. We would not sustain the kind of development we would want to have for future generations,” said Benn.
“So the work is going ahead and I am calling on all those concerned and interested to support this project. We got to go ahead… everybody else in in the race. We have to decide whether we are in the race at all and whether we intend to be at the finish,” Benn said.
“As we have noted before there are new developments in South America, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year and the Olympics in 2016. So the link to Venezuela is important. These are opportunities in terms of putting in the relevant infrastructure that would go forward into the future to sustain the growth and development that is necessarily for our people,” he said.
Also speaking to Stabroek News, Chairman of the CJIA Board Ramesh Dookhoo said that monies are still being spent out of the US$20.7 million mobilisation advance to the contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
“I am anxious to know when the ruling of the [acting] Chief Justice will come regarding budget cuts. As you can see a lot of planning has gone into getting more airlines to come because of the expansion and I hope that at some point we can resolve this issue whether it is in the courts or [elsewhere],” he said.
“As we speak the design plans are almost completed and the work is moving forward based on the advance that has been paid to [CHEC],” he added.
Meanwhile, CEO of CJIA Ramesh Ghir added that the contractor has commenced excavating the end of the runway and has already built accommodation for workers onsite. So the work is proceeding basically,” he said.
“We have gone out [to tender] for consultancy and the award of the consultancy will be done sometime in December. So we are hopeful that the final designs for the building will be completed by February/March next year,” he said.
He said that the runway lengthening will be done concurrently with the expansion of the terminal building and the runway will take about 18 months to complete. He said that once the final design is done, construction of the terminal building will commence.
He stated too that the contractor CHEC is still using money from the mobilisation financing for the ongoing works.