Friday, 07 September 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - Construction of the new airport terminal at the VC Bird International Airport is progressing ahead of schedule and Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Baldwin Spencer, Ambassador to China David Shoul as well as Tourism Minister Hon. John Maginley are all elated at revelation made on Thursday.
Addressing the media nine months after the start of the project, Prime Minister Spencer said he was both “satisfied” and “overwhelmingly impressed” at the considerable progress made on the project in such short time.
Ambassador Shoul estimates that the project is at least one month ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed by December 2013.
The Prime Minister told Caribarena government would now be moving to have the documents governing this, yet another, Chinese loan agreement tabled in Parliament at the earliest convenience.
Government and private individuals from across the country had long made inquires as to why the government had opted not to take this agreement, like that of the Wadadli Power Plant, before Parliament prior to commencing operations.
But the Prime Minister continues to maintain that his government, according to law, can borrow more than $300 million without parliamentary consent.
No estimated figures on how much money was expended so far could be provided but Ambassador Shoul and senior airport officials did speculate that only the initial draw down of cash from the Chinese funding bank has been collected.
Questions about whether the project had changed contractors at any time during its lifespan were responded to in the negative with all assurances pointing to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) as the single builder.
Remaining in his jovial state, the PM said, “It will be tabled in parliament. Yes, it will be.”
The PM said considering the progress and successes so far of this project, government is “contemplating” expanding the initiative in both east and westward directions.
“Of course that was not part of the original plan but having looked at the situation and recognizing what the possibilities are and the fact that it is possible that we are going to have the cooperation of the Chinese on this, we are looking at having the expansion,” the PM said.
He added that the proposed expansion would have no land implication.
Ambassador Shoul has said that negotiations for the proposed expansion are already underway and progressing steadily.
“We believe that we have access to enough lands to take care of the expansion programme,” the PM said, adding that the cost element of such an undertaking is already being looked into.
“One of the things I have to point out is that apart from what you see here and what the Chinese have been contracted to do, there are a number things that the government of Antigua & Barbuda would have had to undertake as the overall part of the project.
“When we looked at that we recognised that that would be a costly affair and as you may know, Government at this time may not have the full wherewithal. That would be part of the arrangement that we will enter into with the Chinese. So rather than the government having to undertake that project itself, it would become part of the expansion phase of this project. That would be included in the cost element of the expansion,” the PM said.
Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister John Maginley said he has taken quite a few opportunities to examine the progress of the construction and he was indeed pleased with the progress as well as the proposition for expansion.
“The project is ahead of schedule. We have to continue … on this path,” Maginley said, adding that when completed, the terminal will stand in equal, if not superior footing to similar facilities across the Caribbean.
Maginley pointed to the obvious implications that the new and modern terminal would have on the local tourism industry as well as Antigua’s overall image as being the hub of the Caribbean.