President Donald Ramotar on Saturday participated in the historic sod turning exercise, paving the way for work to commence on the construction of a new and modernised Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The president while addressing the gathering at the CJIA said the exercise could not have been done at a better time as Guyana is currently celebrating 100th anniversary in the aviation sector. “It is indeed a happy coincidence that as we celebrate the centenary of aviation in our country, at the same time we are beginning the construction of a modern and new international airport and that is a fitting tribute to all who have contributed to the development of the sector,” the president disclosed.
He noted that Guyana has contracted China Harbouring Engineering Company to construct the new and modernised airport based on its experience with the company, and also the fruitful bilateral relationships Guyana enjoys with China.
The president added that as a developing country, which emerged from colonialism, there was always a talk about South/South cooperation, but it has failed, noting at that time, the conditions were not ripe. He further revealed that the vision and idea were sound, adding that it would be safe to say that the time has arrived when Guyana can have stronger South/South cooperation. Ramotar also noted that his administration will not only focus on social and economic development, but infrastructural development as well, noting that this is pivotal to improving the lives of all Guyanese.
“We want to build a strong modern society, to do so, it is important that we have the necessary infrastructure to carry on the many things we want to do… Today, we are undertaking that kind of infrastructure, thus this important project is one of many,” the president said.
The commander-in-chief explained that Guyana will soon bridge the gap between the southern and northern hemisphere. He added that with the new and modernised airport, it will enable flights moving from north to south to transit here, while underscoring that Guyana is at the right juncture and can become an important hub.
Also addressing the gathering was Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Zhang Li Min, who reiterated his commitment to the people and government of Guyana. The ambassador also thanked the country for choosing a Chinese company to construct the new airport, noting that with this move, it will further improve Guyana-China relations.
China Harbour Engineering Company General Manger Zhong Dong Tang highlighted his commitment to the expansion project and promised work to the highest standard. “China Harbour is humbled to be contributing to this great achievement by the government and people of Guyana,” he stated.
On this note, he reiterated that with the airport expansion project, it will increase international flights to Guyana, enhance tourism, boost trade, and more importantly, ensure economic growth for the country. Tang related that the present runway of the airport cannot meet the requirement that facilitates larger inter-continental aircraft such as the boeing 747-400. He said the new airport will comprise a new terminal building with eight bridges, and an extended runway to accommodate huge aircrafts.
Meanwhile, CJIA Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Ghir recollected that ever since 1913 when the first aircraft was flown over Georgetown, the industry has grown rapidly and urged stakeholders to support the expansion project.
“We now have 4000 international flights on a yearly basis; 600,000 international passengers moved through the present airport facility in a year; the control tower processes more than 61,000 flights yearly; and more importantly, more than 10,000 people are employed with the existing facility directly or indirectly,” Ghir noted.
He explained that Guyana’s aviation sector is growing rapidly and based on Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s findings, passenger’s growth is projected to be four to five per cent per annum. Transport and Hydraulics Minister Robeson Benn said the importance of the project cannot be downplayed, adding that the expansion could not have been more timely since presently more young people are qualifying themselves in the various sectors, especially in the field of engineering.
The subject minister explained that with the expansion, there will be need for additional manpower and it will be fitting enough to contract those young people. President Ramotar also took the opportunity to commission a new set of equipment at the Air Traffic Control Tower and the first provision body scanner at the CJIA.
Source: Guyana Times