In interest of a safer, modern airport - CJIA expansion continues

17th June, 2014

KINGSTON - The expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana continues with a view towards safety and creating an international hub for aircraft movement.

Minister of Public Works Robeson recently pointed out that thus far, basic technical work has been done regarding the designs, and with a consulting firm now on board, the work will continue.

He explained that test sections have been successfully done for the removal of pegasse and the relocation of the army engineering compound will soon begin. The Minister pointed also that the construction of facilities for Chinese teams and specialist workers will soon be completed.

From 2000 to 2012, passenger movement at the CJIA leaped from 384,000 to 544,000 [a 42 percent jump] over these years, hence an expanded airport is necessary.

Importance of Expansion

The first criterion of expansion is safety targeting the runway being extended by a 1000 metres. “The runway is too short, it’s at the barest minimum for the type of traffic which comes in and we need to lengthen the runway for safety,” he said as he reminded of the Caribbean Airlines plane that overshot the runway two years ago.

The Minister also pointed out that an expanded airport would enable the attraction of larger aircraft which are more efficient in operations and whose use will redound in cheaper fares for travellers.

The other great opportunity, he said, as he pointed out the entry of  several airlines including COPA Airlines, and  Dynamic Airways  into Guyana, “is that Guyana’s geographic location on the northern shoulder of South America provides an ideal location to develop a regional hub or international hub with respect to aircraft movement.”

This, he observed, would assist aircraft on long transatlantic flights to land in Guyana if there is a large enough airport where they can do facilitation, “bring tourists, take on fuel, do all the engineering and other things and develop the market so there’s an opportunity for the development of a regional hub market in South America.”

He also pointed to travel from Brazil where persons going to North America or Europe had to go to Sao Paulo or Rio. “The Brazilian Government is liberalising this market too. It’s an opportunity for markets to join into Manaus and Belem and those other sections into South America,” he explained.

Travellers wanting to get to the West Coast of South America to Ecuador or Peru usually have to get to Miami or New York. “It has improved since Copa Airlines has developed significantly going out of Panama, but our location as the possible hub is advantageous as being the development of international air cargo and passenger traffic so it has to be done,” Minister Benn stated.

He observed too that there is no way Guyana will remain uncompetitive in the areas “if we don’t do things the way it ought to be done in the market. Suriname is expected to expand its airport, the Jamaicans are looking at theirs, and Grenada is expanding its airport. There are many other countries in the Caribbean who are expanding their airport to make it more efficient, to travel more efficient and more advantageous to the travelling public.”

Minister Benn pointed out that business and opportunities will develop as a result of the development of the airport, “ Not only in the extension of the runway, but also in the development of a new terminal building which is inadequate for the type of traffic which goes straight at the moment.”

While he commended the improvement and expansion of the Ogle Airport he noted that, “it is a small place with respect to what happens at CJIA. The expansion has to come from the extensions at CJIA and the developments in the terminal building where there is room to do those things. The room doesn’t exist at Ogle and couldn’t exist at Ogle,” the Minister declared.

The Opposition cut the $6.5B allocated in Budget 2014 for the CJIA project that was signed by the Governments of Guyana and China on October 31, 2012, and which is to be funded to the value of US$130 million from the Chinese Exim Bank.

Upon completion, the CJIA would be able to meet service projected traffic and become a hub for regional and continental traffic. The upgrade and expansion comprises a new terminal building that will have eight passenger boarding bridges, two elevators, and CCTV and departures control systems.

Test section of CJIA’s runway extension completed

4th April, 2014

TIMEHRI - The backfilling of a test section for the extended Cheddi Jagan International Airport runway is completed, said Ajay Singh, CJIA’s Engineer attached to the airport’s multi-million expansion project.

The excavation of peat/peggase was completed last week and encompassed 160m x 160m area with approximately 2,500 truckloads of sand dumped at the section. Works commenced last year October.

“The next step is for Engineers to conduct geotechnical testing, which means samples of soil will be taken to ensure it is of high quality…and I anticipate this will be completed in another few weeks,” Singh noted.

Meanwhile, excavation of additional areas for the runway extension is ongoing, and according to Singh, “it is expected to pick up speed from June 2014.”

China Harbour Engineering Company is carrying out the works.

The runway extension is being constructed to category Code 4E to accommodate the BOEING 747-400 aircraft. The runway will be extended from 7,500 feet to 10,800 feet.

The US$150M project also includes the construction of a new terminal building, which is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of the year.

Guyana courting airlines  

Whilst the airport expansion is moving forward, Government through the Ministry of Public Works has begun courting airlines.

Over the past five months, officials have engaged in conversations/negotiations with top airline executives to ply the Georgetown route. So far, the feedback is encouraging.

“Our selling point is that we are modernizing our airport to accommodate 777 and 747 aircraft, coupled with our aggressive tourism campaign has piqued the interest of international airline executives,” Ramesh Ghir, CJIA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) stated.   

According to him, airline investors are optimistic of aviation growth in the country and pointed to the new airlines now operating from CJIA. The fourth quarter of 2013 has seen the re-emergence of Travel Span and the introduction of Fly Jamaica and CONVIASA – a Venezuelan based airline. COPA, a Panamanian airline will commence its operation in July 2014. 

Budget 2014 will ensure continued expansion of CJIA

26th March, 2014

TIMEHRI - With work ongoing on the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Budget 2014 has allocated a total of $6.6 billion for works on this project that has the potential to significantly boost the country’s development, especially tourism.

The relocation of the Guyana Defence Force’s engineering division at Timehri is targeted for completion to facilitate construction works on the new airport terminal building.

The US$150M project is funded by the Government of China, through the Chinese Exim Bank. The expansion will cater for a new terminal building with eight boarding bridges, elevators and CCTV. The runway will be extended by 3,500 feet, and there will be eight international parking positions.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh during the Budget presentation on Monday, March 26, 2014 said that Government’s priority is to meet the growing demand for reliable and efficient airlift and riverain transport services to enable easy, safe and cost effective movement of people and goods.

In 2013, a total of $1.1 billion was expended on the expansion and modernisation of the CJIA.

During the 2013 budget debate, the opposition proposed cuts that exceeded the amount budgeted for the CJIA expansion project. After the flaw was exposed by Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, the opposition then voted against the entire $5.6B allocated to the transport sector, ignoring caution that such actions could hamper critical works like rehabilitation of hinterland and coastal airstrips, the purchase and installation of aviation equipment and the continued modernisation of the Ogle Airport.

Despite the opposition’s stance, the CJIA Expansion and Modernisation Project is progressing smoothly, with work ongoing on the runway. When completed, the runway will be able to facilitate Boeing 747-400 type aircraft.

President inspects East Bank and CJIA Expansion projects

3rd March, 2014

TIMEHRI - President Donald Ramotar along with Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn and Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and several engineers on March 2, 2014 visited and inspected works ongoing on the East Bank Demerara four –lane road, and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project.

The latter is expected to meet its deadline of August 2015 as works are scheduled to commence on several aspects of the building during the course of this year. The East Bank four-lane expansion has a June deadline.

President Ramotar  inspected three segments of the East Bank road expansion at Mocha, Little Diamond and Diamond New Scheme, where works are in progress, and expressed satisfaction  with  the works thus far.

Speaking to the Government Information Agency (GINA), at the CJIA, President Ramotar stated that the new airport will bring Guyana up to world class standard, which is very important for the country.

Meanwhile, Minister Benn explained that there were some delays with the East Bank expansion, due to several factors including inclement weather, supply of road material, and the removal of utilities. He noted that now that the weather has improved, works are progressing, and the latest completion date is June month-end.

Meanwhile, CJIA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ramesh Ghir said the airport expansion project is proceeding as planned, and the contractor is currently carrying out excavation work at the end of the runway.

Ghir further said that excavation and back filling works have started on a test section of 160m x 160m of the runway, which is about 10 percent of the runway extension and that in itself, is about 70% complete.

“We anticipate that in a few months we will begin the designs for the terminal building and start construction works on that building,” Ghir said.

The US$150M project is funded by the Government of China through the Chinese Exim Bank. The expansion will cater for a new terminal building with eight boarding bridges, elevators and CCTV. The runway will be extended by 3,500 feet, and there will be eight international parking positions. (GINA) 

CJIA’s runway extension progressing smoothly

13th January, 2014

TIMEHRI - Approximately 1,500 truckloads of sand have been dumped on the trial section of Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) runway extension as of January 11, disclosed Ajay Singh, CJIA’s Engineer attached to the project.

China Harbour Engineering Company is carrying out the works.

On January 4, 2014, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Robeson Benn; CJIA’s Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Ghir; other airport officials and CHEC Engineers visited the sand pit CHEC uses to backfill the trial section.

According to Singh, each truck carries between 27 and 28 cubic metres of sand.  

“So far the work is progressing smoothly,” the Engineer added.

 The extension of runway is being constructed to category Code 4E to accommodate the BOEING 747-400 aircraft. The runway will be extended from 7,500 feet to 10,800 feet.

The US$150M project also includes the construction of a new terminal building. 

Public Works Ministry condemns attack on CHEC technicians

15th October, 2013

TIMEHRI - Three staffers of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) - the corporation executing the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project - were confronted by cutlass-wielding individuals who robbed one of them of a cell phone on October 12. The incident occurred around 1:45 pm.

Investigations revealed that the CHEC staff were back filling sand to the north of the existing runway when three persons approached the sand truck operator menacingly with a cutlass ordering him to stop the operation which he readily did.

The trio, alleged to be cash crop farmers in the area, left and went across to the CHEC technicians some distance off and violently stole a cell phone valued US$500 from the pocket of one of the men. Meanwhile, another employee was gripped by his neck by one of the perpetrators.

The Ministry of Public Works strongly denounces this incident which sends a wrong message to foreign nationals working for Guyana’s development.

The Timehri police are investigating the matter and two persons so far have been arrested.

CJIA expansion attracts int’l interest

30th September, 2013

GEORGETOWN – Several countries have shown interest in Guyana’s push to develop a new international airport, disclosed Robeson Benn, Minister of Public Works, who led a small delegation to the 38th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) General Assembly in Montreal, Canada.

Representatives from Nigeria, Indonesia and other African countries quizzed Minister Benn on the opportunities that could be derived from the project. In-depth discussions were also held with Princess Stella Adaeze-Oduah, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister.

According to Minister Benn, he along with Director of Guyana Civil Aviation Authourity (GCCA), Zulfikar Mohamed and Guyana’s Ambassador to Canada networked with countries currently spending millions of dollars to either upgrade of build new airports.    

“….countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, just to name a few,” he divulged.   

The summit, which began on September 24, saw the convergence of over 1,400 delegates brainstorming and discussing a range of critical global issues including how countries and operators will cooperatively manage the projected doubling of air transport traffic now expected by 2030.

“Importantly, the delegates endorsed the revision of global safety and air navigation, affordability and sustainability,” Minister Benn added.

Meanwhile, the unilateral taxes on airfares that were enforced by the United States and the United Kingdom created some unease among delegates – with St. Vincent leading the charge. The taxes imposed, aviation pundits opined, can be attributed to the significant airfare into the region and are a deterrent to the tourism industry.   

On the environmental front, international aviation is coming under more scrutiny from ICAO and sister agencies on its impact on the environment.

“ICAO has stressed repeatedly that aviation contributes just 2 per cent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions each year and that approximately two thirds of this amount, or 1.3 per cent, are due to international flights,” the Public Works Minister explained.

The ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of MontrealQuebecCanada.

Government NOT responsible for any defects for CJIA expansion project

25th September, 2013

GEORGETOWN - The Ministry of Public Works takes this opportunity to clarify some misconstrued information, peddled by some to cause anxiety in the public, as it relates to the contract inked between the Ministry and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

They are:

1. Naming a Government Engineer for the project;

2. The construction of Section 1.13 of the FIDIC document in reference to its terms and conditions;

3. And performance security being 10 percent of contract sum.

Firstly, while an Engineer is not named in the contract, those arrangements have been taken care of administratively; and an Engineer has been identified and appointed.

In addition to that, Section 1.13 [Compliance with Laws] sub-clause (b) states: “The Contractor shall give all notices, pay all taxes, duties and fees, and obtain all permits, licenses and approval, as required by the Laws in relation to the design, execution and completion of the Works and the remedying of any defects; and the Contractor shall indemnify and hold the Employer harmless against and from the consequences of any failure to do so.”

Since the Government of Guyana will pay all taxes, duties and fees, and obtain all permits, licenses and approval regarding the (1) design, (2) execution and completion and (3) remedying any defects during the defects liability period there was reason for interchanging names (Contractor and Employer) in the above clause as stated in the signed contract.

This section provides, in the view of the Public Works Ministry, a CORRECT interpretation which clearly illustrates that Government is not responsible for curing any defects.   

Additionally, Section 11 of FIDIC explicitly deals with Defects Liability, whereby it is very clear that CHEC and not the Government is responsible for remedying Defects during the Defects and Liability Period. 

Furthermore, it is a norm in large contracts for the performance bond to be 10% of the contract sum.

The Ministry is deeply concerned that misinterpretation of the facts misleads the public, and strongly encourages the public to become their own investigative journalists to determine for themselves what is fact from fiction.

CJIA project going ahead – Minister Benn

16th September, 2013

KINGSTON - The Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project will be going ahead as planned, according to Public Works Minister Robeson Benn during a press conference on September 13 at his office. 

When asked where the funding will be coming from, he indicated that last year $20M was approved and advanced by the National Assembly. The Minister noted that the project is a valid one since the contractor is on the ground and equipment is already arriving.

The sod was turned in March last for the project that will improve Guyana’s capacity to accommodate larger categories of aircraft, thereby realising its potential as a hub for flights to and from the North and South America and further afield.

Guyana’s main port of entry will boast a runway of a total of 10,800 feet, a new terminal building, eight boarding bridges, elevators, escalators, three dimensional x-ray scanners, flight information and security monitoring systems.

The length of the current runway precludes larger aircraft from coming to Guyana.

“We want to develop a hub, not only a regional hub for South America and the Caribbean, but also for Trans Atlantic flights from Southern Africa and other parts going out to the East,” Minister Benn noted today.

He also explained that there is a large number of flights from Latin America flying over Guyana’s territory and the implementation of the expansion presents an opportunity for them to land here and transfer passengers.

“So there’s a big opportunity we’re foregoing if we don’t do this project,” the Minister emphasised. Further, the project will enable the effective and efficient handling of passengers and aircraft.

On an annual basis an average 4,000 international flights and 600,000 passengers arrive at the CJIA. These numbers are expected to double in the near future and by the year 2030, triple.

With regards to the relocation of the squatters near the airport, the Minister indicated that he met with some of them on Wednesday and another batch two weeks ago, and the management of the CJIA was scheduled to meet the other residents today to convince them of the need for their relocation.