Recently, Vincentians living at home and abroad had the opportunity to seek answers to questions they had about the construction of the Argyle International Airport. This was made possible when the International Airport Development Company, IADC, took its message directly to the people at the recently held Vincy Homecoming Conference and Expo.
Some of the more frequently asked questions included: Is the project on time? When is it scheduled to be completed? How would you be dealing with the water flowing under the runway? What about the wind at Argyle? And do you have enough money to finish the airport?
Having their questions answered, most of them walked away a lot more confident that the project is a good one and that it would be operational in 2012. Some who had lingering doubts and needed to further convince themselves made a special trip to the airport site. The group comprised of Vincentians living in the UK, the US, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and a few living here at home. At the end of the tour many remarked on how impressive the project is and pledged to spread the word when they return to their respective homes.
Meantime, as the word continues to spread about the progress of the work on the airport, the work continues to pick up pace with the addition of more equipment. This includes two motor scrapers and seven of 12 used trucks bought from the firm L. Jackson and Co. The trucks were previously owned by the British Army. Seven of them landed at Port Campden Park on Wednesday October 28th, and are employed on the project site. They are assisting in the speedier removal of material generated from excavation; the other 5 are expected here soon.
Consultant Engineer, “Professor” Leonardo Perez has also been talking about the progress being made on the construction of the Argyle International Airport. Following are two questions posed to the Professor and his response.
Answer: At this time we are at a better place than the last time we spoke. A few weeks ago we received some new equipment on site. Now we have more trucks, we have more excavation capacity and we have been able to put the project back on schedule. We also feel very good about what we would be able to complete by the end of 2009. The general progress up to two weeks ago was 25.75% and by the end of 2009 we are hoping to complete 30% of the total earthworks on the project.
We want to make specific mention of certain activities that we are doing, because talking generally like this, you might not understand what we are talking about. There are different areas within the general project: There are the runway, taxi ways, the platform area, and the area where the terminal building would be constructed. When we are talking, we are talking about the general project, so when we say we have 25.75%, we are talking about all the different areas together, and when we say we are going to complete 30% we are also making reference to earthworks in all the different areas.
We also have to talk about the different activities that we have to do, such as the excavation, the transportation of the excavated material and the construction of the embankment. First, we are going to talk about the runway. At this moment we have completed 30% of the earthworks for the runway. Some weeks aback, we started work in the technical area, that is, where the terminal building and other facilities will be. We have already cleared more than 90% of that area, and we have also started the removal of the top soil in that area, so that at this moment this part of the project is at 10% overall completion.
Talking about the principal activities such as excavation, one part of that work is done by bulldozers and another with the aid of explosives. When you start projects of this nature, of this magnitude, at the beginning of the year you set forward a figure which you would like to accomplish by the end of the year, and sometimes what was proposed is not accomplished. In our case, inadequate transportation to remove excavated material caused some setbacks for us. However, in recent weeks we have had another seven trucks and two scrapers added to the complement of equipment. This has allowed us to complete 95% of what was initially programmed to be completed by the end of this year.
Answer: I want to talk to you in a way that would explain more or less what has been happening on the site. For example, in the excavation, on a daily basis we excavate more than 7,000m3 of material and with the new trucks our transportation capacity has increased immensely, so that now we are able to move up to 12,000m3 per day. These are very important figures, figures that are only accomplished by very big companies. On a daily basis, in the construction of embankment, we are seeing more than 4,000m3 of embankment being constructed.
If memory serves me well, I could remember the last time we spoke we were about ten days behind schedule. Today, with reference to the program that we have, we are 1.5 days ahead of schedule. For the next year, we are hoping have more equipment working on the project. At the end of this year we should be about one week ahead of our own schedule. I want to end by saying why this has been possible. Whoever has a neighbor who is working on the project would know that that neighbor doesn’t spend much time in his house because you’d notice that they are working 12 hours a day, every day of the week, so it is very hard work. Once we continue next year with this same rhythm, you can rest assure that the Vincentians and the Cubans would complete this project within the stipulated time. I am sure that with the support of the people and the government we are going to complete this project.