…project set to meet December deadlineThe Public Infrastructure Ministry on Friday hosted a tour of the expansion site at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in an effort to provide the public with an update on the progress of the airport’s expansion project. The ministry and project managers remained adamant that the expansion process will be completed for the stipulated December 2017 deadline despite challenges.Speaking at the event Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson noted that the Ministry hosted the day’s exercise given that the project is in, “the final lap.”Construction on going at the CJIA the new terminal BuildingAt the moment, foundation for the expansion of the runway has already been laid with an 80 per cent completion achieved at the north east end while the south west holds a 60 per cent completion. There is also a visible structure of the new arrival terminal with renovations on the existing terminal still on its way. Other works such as the relocation of auxiliary buildings (generator rooms and fire pump stations) have been fast tracked with the addition of boarding corridors and bridges yet to materialize.Patterson did indicate that similarly to other construction works, challenges are to be expected. At the same time, he pointed out that possible challenges include the current rainy season, the impending passenger peak season in July/August and possible delays in the release of loans.FinancingMoreover regarding the financing of the project, the Minister notified media operatives that the project is almost at the monetary limit catered for in the 2017 budget. This therefore means that further requests will have to be made to the project’s foreign based sponsors for the release of additional loans. While the initial overhead cost of the project remains at US$150M, they have already exhausted US$85M to date, which will consequently result in the need for further loans in a matter of months.On this note, the Minister stated that the completion of this project at the set deadline is more advantageous than considering a delay given that the repercussions may incur greater expenses. As such, he further assured those in attendance that the CJIA expansion will be completed on time, even with the need for supplementary grants.New suppliersAlso materializing at the event was a shift to local suppliers of stones for the initial stages of the construction of the runways and airport various facilities. A Surinamese company previously held a contract with the project managers for the supply of 20,000 tons of stones at the cost of US$28 per ton.However, a contract was on Friday signed bwteeen China Habour’s Project Manager Keliang Lui and Brian Tiwarie of BK Quarries as well as Rajesh Persaud of Toolsie Persaud Quarries for the supply of local aggregate. According to the contract, BK Stone Quarries will now be supplying some 50,000 tons at a contract price of US$1.8M while Toolsie Persaud Quarries will supply 45,000 tons of stone totaling US$1.7M.Necessary expansionAlso speaking at the event was Chief Executive Officer of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Ramesh Ghir, who expressed delight in the works being done to enhance the facilitates at Timerhi. Ghir highlighted that, “The airport expansion was well thought out and it is necessary for the country as this is our main port of entry.”The CEO went on to say that it is evident that the traffic numbers at the airport has increase since the recent developments of the local oil and gas industry and the administration is anticipating a further hike in travelers in the near future. As such, he is pleased that CJIA can now catered for larger numbers especially with the state of the art improvements that will be available come December.Moreover, Ghir pointed out that the airport’s administration as well as the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Tourism are always in the talks with new airline carries to commence operations in Guyana. He further indicated that considerations are currently underway with a few airlines and there is a great possibility that Guyana will soon see the operations of new carriers.TourismCommenting on the airport expansion project, Minister Catherine Hughes, who holds responsibility for tourism, indicated it has tremendous potential to boost the tourism sector. Hughes went on to say that first impressions are important and having this new and improve facilitates will have a lasting imprint on those traveling to Guyana for the first time and at the same time, will provide better amenities to aid in the experience for this traveling long distances. The restoration and expansion of CJIA commenced in 2013 under the People’s Progress Party Government.