Snail’s pace BIA expansion irks aviation industry

  • Stakeholders say haphazard implementation exposes contractor incompetence

  • Industry alleges project begun last Dec., only progressed 10%

  • Completion of Rs. 152 b venture likely to be postponed

  • Over 4 months only 21 pilings done out of 200 goal

  • Calls for better oversight and support by Govt. and funding agencies

The snail’s pace expansion at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is irking the aviation and tourism industry, with the delay also costing the Government dearly. Dubbed the largest construction project of the Government, the BIA Terminal 2 development phase is being done at an extremely slow pace, with industry insiders alleging that the project, which began in December last year, has only progressed to 10% of the expected target after four months of work. The two-part project consisting of ‘Package A’ and ‘Package B’ is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Japan’s TAISEI holds the contract for this project. The Government of Japan has provided a loan of Yen 74,397 million (Rs. 131.5 billion) for the project. The Airport and Aviation Services Company is spending Rs. 21.645 billion. The cost of the ‘A’ package is Rs. 108 billion. At the time of the award, the contractor had promised to complete construction in three years. Phase one of ‘Package A’ consists of constructing a new multilevel terminal building (Terminal 2) with an approximate floor area of 180,000 square metres, where arrivals and departures are separated vertically, Pier no. 2 and Pier no. 3 with a link concourse, new parking apron and taxiways, elevated access roads, passenger bridges, electricity, water supply and waste disposal system, combustion engines and integrated machinery, and a five-storey car park. Under the second phase (package A) the machinery, access road, retention pond and storm water drainage system will be constructed, and about 80% of the development work has been completed up to now. The estimated cost for this is Rs. 6 billion. Four-and-a-half months have elapsed since the beginning of phase one of this project, and according to the contract agreement 200 piles should have been installed by now. Sources said however that only 21 of them have been installed to date. According to the project proposal, 1,200 internal piles and 96 external piles need to be installed. “It has become increasingly difficult to calculate the time taken for the completion of the project with such a disappointing start. In the contract it states that within the first month all obstacles for the project should be identified and necessary steps should be taken to overcome them. After four months an underground cable has been found and the constructions have been halted halfway,” sources allege. The inordinate delay has exposed the project management expertise of TAISEI as well as the technical competence and capability of local sub-contractors used. “Although 12 cranes are needed for initial constructions, only four are there at the construction site, and it is evident that the local contractor does not have the necessary strength to carry out this project,” sources claimed. The aviation and tourism sectors were among the first to get attention in the economic aspect after the impact of COVID-19, given their ability to rebound faster once the pandemic eased. “The Government must be commended for taking the necessary steps to broaden the country’s aviation resources amidst a pandemic. However, it is also the Government’s responsibility to get the projects done without undue delay,” sources opined. Original Article : http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Snail-s-pace-BIA-expansion-irks-aviation-industry/44-717397

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