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PM satisfied with progress at Argyle international airport

PM satisfied with progress at Argyle international airport

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has declared his satisfaction with the progress of the Argyle international airport.

Gonsalves was commenting on the progress of this country’s largest capital project, after a tour of the airport by members of Cabinet last Thursday.{{more}}

“The progress has been excellent,” the Prime Minister said.

Last Friday was nine years since Gonsalves announced the Government’s plan to build an international airport and tomorrow will mark six years since the construction of the landmark began.

While highlighting that fact, the Prime Minister revealed some setbacks that had occurred since the construction started.

“We had given different timelines for substantial completion and we got set back with a number of things, technical and availability of money on time,” he said.

“You have witnessed a mammoth undertaking. I always repeat that to build this airport, we have had to move four mountains, fill four valleys, span a river, move a church and a cemetery, cause to be removed 134 middle income houses and have them rebuilt elsewhere, to move the petroglyphs, which may sound like a small task, but which was a huge undertaking and to do all this by having to put together an amazing coalition of persons and interests dedicated to one matter: to build a high quality international airport at the lowest cost possible to the Vincentian taxpayers and I think that is what we are doing.”

In his remarks, Gonsalves pointed out that a large quantity of in-kind contributions have led to the airport being valued at more than the Government has spent so far.

“The value of what we had spent was over $500 million, but the actual expenditure in money terms was $340 million. In other words, there were about …180 million dollars more than we had actually spent, because of the extent of in-kind contributions,” he said.

Additionally, the Prime Minister reminded persons that he had gone to Parliament in May 2013 with a supplementary bill for US$80 million, which he said was for the completion of the international airport.

While giving an outline of the funds – US$40 million from ALBA bank, US$20 million from the sale of 40 acres of land in Canouan at US$500,000 an acre, US$10 million from the Taiwan government, a little more than US$5.5 from the Bank of Nova Scotia and a small sum from the Caribbean Development Fund – Gonsalves revealed that some of the money has been slow in coming and this inevitably affects the completion date of the airport.

“The timeline which I have given that we will complete by the end of the year will depend on a number of factors, especially the pace at which we receive this money and the avoidance of particular hiccups arising from conditions of weather or any other unforeseen circumstance,” Gonsalves said.

The Argyle international airport currently sits on approximately 400 acres of land and is estimated to have construction completed by December 2014 and to be operational by mid-2015.(BK)

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