Can you believe the holidays are right around the corner? Likely by the time this paper gets to you we’ll be done with Halloween and those who celebrate Thanksgiving (or those of us who just look for another excuse to get together and eat a lot of food) will be gearing up for turkey.
Speaking of Halloween, the biggest fright we have had all year is the recent announcement in Parliament that the airport is scheduled for a January opening. That’s not just disappointing, that is downright scary.
The reason it scares me? Look to page 22 to see a very lovely graph pinpointing some details regarding our airport. Notice how it starts all the way back in 2000? This project has been kicked down the road for nearly fourteen years. Four separate governments, albeit the same two leaders, have overseen an astonishing amount of false starts, wasted money and scrapped plans.
Do we know if the contract signed between Vancouver Airport Services and the FNM in May 2009 cost the taxpayers anything? The plans were scrapped, but had work for designs and money already changed hands? What about three years earlier, in September 2006, under the PLP when a previous architect was given a contract to design plans?
But these were just designs. Fast forward to September 1, 2011 when actual ground was broken by FES Construction to build a design by Architects Inc. The construction was set to last ten months. My how time flies.
In April 2012, still under the FNM government, FES Construction claims to be nearly 70% complete. Complaints arise from the company that necessary inspections are not being issued on time causing delays and problems with maintaining the large part-time labour force.
The government changes later that year. The Minister of Transport and Aviation makes a public statement saying the project is experiencing millions of dollars in cost overruns.
In January 2013 Minister of Works, the Hon. Philip Davis, says adjustments are nearly finished. He tells the public to look for an April completion date. April rolls by. New date of completion is set for August. August is a no-go. The building contractor claims they have not received mobilization funds for changes noted in the “punch list” as stated back in July.
In September the Minister notes “Technical issues,” are delaying the terminal’s opening.
In October a new date is set during a Parliament meeting for the opening: January 2014.
Pretty spooky isn’t it?
Spooky? No. It’s terrifying. It’s terrifying to all of us who hope to see business on this island succeed. Because as the track record shows, these delays add up. They add up to a mind-numbing conclusion that it does not matter which government has been in power, it does not matter how much money gets wasted on redesigns and lost productivity and it does not matter how much the Public Treasury misses out on potential income. This being the case, I’m not sure what DOES matter to our government(s).
It is unacceptable that in fourteen years we cannot get this right.