Georgetown, Guyana – (January 27, 2018) President David Granger, this morning, charged the management and staff of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to commit to ensuring that with a newly modernised airport comes efficiency, high standards and quality service, where an increasing number of investors, tourists and the travelling public can be in an out of the airport as quickly as possible. The airport which is currently undergoing US$150M in expansion works, he said, must also be a showcase of Guyana’s ‘green’ agenda and operate as a first class entry point into a modern state.
The President was at the time speaking during a site tour at the CJIA, where the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet, were invited by the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson to have a first-hand look at the state of works. The Head of State said that he expects that there will be an influx of tourists and investors, especially with the impending oil and gas sector and Guyana’s pursuit of the ‘Green’ State Development Strategy (GSDS) and it is important for there to be greater efficiency.
“This is the entry point for the modern state. It is very important to our development. Infrastructure would attract tourists and now that we are embarking on a new industry people would want to come in their numbers and they should be coming to Guyana at a modern airport. In time to come, we should be able to put a time on visitors, meaning that no visitor should be able to spend more than ten minutes in the airport. We need an efficient service so that as soon as someone lands, they can be on their way, of course after satisfying all security requirements. We need to plan for the future,” he said.
President Granger said that the project is not an ornamental one but is rather, a key element in the development of the entire country. “It will be very functional and it is very important to the future development of our country. It is the gateway to the ‘green’ state and I hope these can be reflected in the murals so that it can showcase the character of the country. It is also a gateway not just to the Caribbean but South America as well, so it is an important cultural statement as well. From a functional point of view, a major problem in Guyana is the absence of adequate infrastructure and many people do not come to Guyana because it is very bothersome because there are a few direct flights and so this is very functional,” the President said.
Noting that it is a historic moment as this is the first time in over 50 years that work on such a major scale has been undertaken at the facility, President Granger said that it is a day to be acknowledged and all Guyanese must be proud of.
“This area was given by the United Kingdom to the United States 75 years ago for the establishment of a base and the aircraft coming from North Africa would land here. The aircraft would take off from here to protect the bauxite ships, which were taking bauxite from here to Chaguaramas to build aircraft for the Americans so Guyana played an important and this was called Atkinson Field. When we gained Independence, it was given back to Guyana as an Independence gift. The main building burnt in 1959 and when the Government changed in 1964, we got a new terminal building but this is now the first change to be made since then so we are standing on history,” he said.
Minister Patterson, in brief remarks, said that the site visit was arranged since the project is entering what he called the ‘third fix stage’, where he said that the first set of final touches will applied. As such, he noted that it was best felt that the members of Cabinet should have an input on things they may or may not want so that those touches can be applied.
“We thought it would be good to bring all the members of the Cabinet here today so that if there are any inputs, they can do so today. We are at the third fix stage and this is where are now going into finishes and for a project this big, we want persons to give their input now before we go ahead. The Ministries of Business, Public Health and Public Telecommunications already catered for but they can review and give their comments,” he said.
Mr. Ramesh Ghir, Chief Executive Officer of the CJIA, said that this is the first time such a large delegation from any Government has visited the facility. This, he said, is a clear indication of the interest and commitment the current administration has towards the project. “We are very honoured and privileged to have you here. It is the first time that we are having such a high level team at the CJIA. The fact that we are here this weekend is a practical demonstration of this Government’s commitment not only to the project but improving the country’s infrastructure and the lives of Guyanese and for this we want to thank you Mr. President,” he said.
While the project was slated to be completed in December 2017, there were numerous challenges, which affected this deadline. However, with the deadline now extended at no further cost to the Government, Minister Patterson said that the new arrivals terminal building, generator building, pipe installation, pump station and water tank, boarding corridor and passenger boarding bridges will be completed by the first quarter of the year. Works on the Check-in and Departure lounges and the first phase of the Departure terminal, Screening and VIP areas and the South West runway will be completed by June month end. All other works will be completed by December 2018.
The terminal building area will increase from 13,431 to 13,737 square metres; checking counters will be increased from 20 to 32, and the runway length increased from 10,066 metres to 10,090 metres.
On completion the US$150M expansion project is expected to yield two passenger boarding bridges for arrival and departures, a 450-seating departure area, escalators and elevators in addition to its extended runway catering for larger categories of aircraft.