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Chief engineer’s death should not affect airport completion – IADC head

Chief engineer’s death should not affect airport completion – IADC head


Although Jeffrey Cato, the chief project engineer at the International Airport Development Company, passed away last week, his death should not impact the completion of the airport, the head of the project has said.{{more}}

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, chief executive officer of the IADC, Rudy Matthias, recognized Cato’s immense contributions to this country, not only as the chief technical officer in Planning and chief engineer at the Ministry of Transport and Works, but as a wonderful person as well.

Matthias, who will deliver a tribute to Cato at his funeral on Wednesday, spoke of the engineer’s role on the construction of the international airport, which dates as far back as 2003.

“His role started way back in 2003, before the airport construction started,” he said. “Mr Cato was a part of what we called a Cabinet oversight committee that was set up under Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, essentially to help the Government arrive at a decision on the airport.”

The CEO explained that the committee’s role was to decide whether or not there was need for an international airport on mainland St Vincent and if so, where it should be located, as studies had indicated that the site at Arnos Vale was unfit.

Matthias indicated that following a decision in 2005 to construct the airport at Argyle, Cato became a partner in the implementation process.

“In March 2008, he joined the IADC as chief project engineer. Over those years, whether he was working at the Planning Division or chief engineer at Works or the chief project engineer at IADC, Jeffrey Cato played a significant role in the construction of the airport project,” Matthias said.

Describing Cato as his confidant and adviser, Matthias told SEARCHLIGHT that he would miss Cato dearly.

When asked whether he thought the engineer’s death would impact the completion of the airport, the CEO stated that “we would have been better off if Jeffrey were alive, but in his passing, we have to put all the measures in place…to do the work of constructing the airport and keeping it on schedule. That would be what he himself would have wanted.”

In addition, Matthias revealed that in one of his last conversations with Cato, he asked if there was anything that he (Matthias) could do for him and Cato replied, “All you need to do is keep things steady.”

“We have come to a stage where we can carry on and he has trained a number of young engineers over the years; those who were working with him, he’s trained them well and they are now able to stand on their own and make a contribution on different areas that Jeffrey Cato was responsible for,” Matthias said.

While he acknowledged that the engineers may not have as much experience as Cato, Matthias assures that they will rise to the occasion to carry out their work as efficiently as possible.

According to reports, the Argyle international airport is expected to be completed before the end of 2014. (BK)