Published on 27.05.2011
Written by: HAWKINS NANTON
THE New Democratic Party (NDP) is not in a position to lecture him or to pose a lecture in the form of a question on the delay of the terminal building to be constructed at the Argyle International Airport project, says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
At Tuesday’s sitting of Parliament, Dr. Godwin Friday, Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, asked why was there a delay with the construction on the Argyle International Airport Terminal Building; had the Government secured funding for the terminal building; will contributions be made by the Taiwanese Government and if so, how much. Responding to Friday’s questions, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said his administration had already explained that by July 2010, CECI Engineering Consultants of Taiwan had completed the designs for the terminal building and other landside facilities and that the issue had been put to tender.
The tender for the construction of the facilities was issued on June 7, 2010, with a tender submission date set for July 9, 2010. He said all prospective tenderers requested an extension, and August 16, 2010, was given as the new deadline date. Dr. Gonsalves said after the extension period had passed, some prospective tenderers had again requested another exntension of about 10 – 12 weeks, but this was not granted and the International Airport Development Company (IADC) proceeded to negotiate with Overseas Engineering Construction Company Ltd (OECC), of Taiwan.
The Prime Minister disclosed that on November 30, 2010, the Board of Directors of IADC took the decision to award the contract to OECC. He said OECC communicated its acceptance of the contract and this was followed by protracted negotiations. “These negotiations are now complete. In fact, every time we thought that there was an agreement, something else came back,” said Dr. Gonsalves, noting that he did not know whether the representative of the Northern Grenadines had ever been involved in the contract for a building beyond his house.
Dr. Gonsalves said it was finally agreed that the price for the construction of the terminal building would be $26.5 million, which covers the cost for the construction of the passenger terminal building, the electrical sub-station and external signs. He said the contract requires OECC to complete construction of the terminal buildings within 28 months, which is set to start by June 2011. Dr. Gonsalves said failing to complete the project within the set time frame, with completion due date being September 2013, there will be a penalty.
Dr. Gonsalves said in the meantime, earthworks are being carried out at the airport site and 90 per cent will be completed by year’s end. The construction of the international airport project is the largest capital project that has been undertaken by this country, said Gonsalves. Secondly, the Prime Minister said for 50 years, elected governments here had talked about constructing one, including the last New Democratic Party (NDP) administration. “In the case of Sir James, in the 1998 elections, he said he had US$100 million in his back pocket for it. This is the same project which Sir James in his autobiography ‘Beyond the Islands’ expressed his profound disappointment in the lack of wisdom of his successor. He said it is his biggest regret in his entire life not to have done something about airport development in St.Vincent,” said Dr. Gonsalves. Dr. Gonsalves said that the project is one that the NDP opposed at every stage until one week before the December 2010 General Elections.
In terms of financing, Dr. Gonsalves said the Government of Taiwan has pledged US$30 million or EC$81.5 million for the design and construction of the terminal building.