Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ogle Airport receives International Certification

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ogle Airport Michael Correia yesterday officially received from Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn, the Ogle Airport’s international certificate.
The handing over was done at a simple ceremony hosted at the Ogle Airport on the East Coast of Demerara, and was attended by several members of the Private Sector, Government Ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps among others.
The certification status comes in wake of the current project wherein the airport is being doubled in size.
The dimensions of the Airport currently are 2,000 feet by 60 feet, and will be increased to 4,000 feet by 100 feet.
The US$6M Phase II enhancement of the Airport includes improvement of taxiways, aprons, perimeter fences, runway lights and the upgrade of terminals among other projects.
The project is being funded by the Guyana Government, CARIFORUM, as well as private investors at the airport.
In his address yesterday, Correia told the gathering that Guyana presently has better economic prospects, over the next five to 10 years, than ever before.
“I believe it is important, that we re-enforce the fact that Guyana is no longer considered a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), by the International Community…Our foreign debt servicing, is now down, to less, than five per cent of Government Revenue, and is being generated mainly from the taxes we pay.”
He pointed out, too, that according to the President, at present, Guyana’s foreign currency reserves have now reached the highest in its history and inflation is stable, and in single digits.
He said that these macro-economic fundamentals, are impressive, and will ensure, “that our free floating currency, remain strong.”
Correia pointed out that, “It is against this backdrop, that the Investors and Operators of Ogle Airport, are now excited, at the formal Certification of Ogle, as Guyana’s second International Airport…It is significant, that this occurs, with the opening of the Berbice River Bridge, a few months earlier, and the Takutu Bridge crossing Brazil, next week.”
According to Correia, the development of the airport realizes the dream of Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr Edwin Carrington, as well as many others, who depend quite a lot on the services of the aviation sector.
He posited that with the new 4000-ft. runway, the Airport will provide CARICOM with the opportunity for the easy movement of their Heads and their support staff, “and we look forward to the many meetings it will facilitate in the future.
He added also that Guyana is “a critical part of the DNA of our Caribbean culture”.”We have the CARICOM Headquarters here already, and now Secretary General, we have our CARICOM Airport, and a gateway to the South.”
Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo in the feature address to the gathering said that while it is an excellent project and bodes well for the development of the country too much time should not be left to gloat, but rather there should be commencement of work for the next project to enhance the country.
He also pointed out that the extension and upgrade to international standard of the Ogle Airport is an excellent example of what can be achieved for the country through collaboration with the Private Sector.
According to Jagdeo, there needs to be more such cooperation where the private sector could benefit by making money and the government achieves progress in its mandate, namely the provision of a better quality of life for its citizens.
He noted that there are several projects in train to enhance the country where the private sector could get involved, adding that a great deal of work must be placed into the initial negotiations given that, “we’ve, got to get value for money.”
The President explained that over the years what government was doing was to fix the economy and ensure a stable financial environment with mechanisms in place to ensure stability and growth in order to attract investors to the country.
Expanding on the many infrastructural projects executed over the years, the president noted that, “the infrastructural landscape over the past 10 years has been transformed.”
CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Edwin Carrington in his presentation to the gathering confirmed the extension of the airport is in fact a dream realized and he is anxiously awaiting the day when he takes off in an airplane from the Ogle International Airport to one of his many Caribbean destinations.
According to Dr Carrington, when he was first approached to assist in the seeking of finance from Europe, among the reasons proffered was the fact that it could facilitate easier transport between CARICOM countries and Latin American Countries such as Brazil.
He added also that another reason was the merging of the different tourism offered in the Region, in that Guyana’s eco-tourism could be included in the various packages.
Dr Carrington added also that with Ogle Airport, Guyana will now become an even more important country to CARICOM and will soon see more regional meetings being held in Guyana.
European Union Ambassador to Guyana Geert Heikens told the gathering that with the advent of the Ogle International Airport there can be greater connectivity between CARICOM countries which is of great importance to the success of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
He said that the lack of intra regional connectivity was one of the greatest challenges to the CSME.
This he said also will inherently aid in the development of infrastructure.
Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn in his presentation said that the extension of the Airport Runway was just one of the many infrastructural development projects aimed at achieving the overall betterment of the country.
He was referring to the soon-to-be commissioned Takutu Bridge as well as the Berbice Bridge.

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