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None of the three brand new fire trucks were used to help fight the blaze in Kingstown. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)
None of the three brand new fire trucks were used to help fight the blaze in Kingstown. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)
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Work on Argyle International Airport has been negatively affected by bad weather since July, but the International Airport Development Company (IADC) said Monday that it still expects the project to be “substantially complete” by the end of December.

“The entire staff at Argyle is all committed and join together in this solemn pledge of trying to complete this Argyle International Airport substantially by the end of this year, so that we can begin operations. And truly, we want to begin operations, by mid next year,” head of the IADC Rudolph Matthias said on Monday.

He was speaking at an event in Campden Park where Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves inspected the three aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicles purchased for the airport.

Matthias said that the fire trucks are the first pieces of equipment that the IADC has bought “to help us realise that dream” of substantially completing the airport by year-end.

Construction on the EC$700 million project began in 2008, and the nation’s first international airport has missed several completion deadlines.

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‘delays are inevitable’

Argyle International Airport site, as seen on Oct. 4, 2014. (IWN photo)
Argyle International Airport site, as seen on Oct. 4, 2014. (IWN photo)

Matthias said that the IADC, a state-owned company, was hoping to open the airport by the end of this year.

“But, as you know, with large projects of this kind, delays are inevitable,” he said.

“We are still working towards substantial completion of the airport project by the end of this year,” he told the gathering, which also Members of Parliament and Cabinet, and officials from the Ministry of National Security.

He noted that the pavement works began in July, adding, “and we are making very good progress.

“The rain that came in the months of July, August, and September, and October too, affected us somewhat, so that the rate of progress of the pavement work was not as good as we would have liked it to be,” Matthias said.

“But this month we are hoping that the rains will hold up, and we know that December tends to be a drier month, so we are hoping that these last two months of the year we can make faster progress with the pavement works.”

He said the IADC is “on track” to complete the commercial apron pavement works and the turning head at the northern end of the runway this year.

“And when we finish that, that will be 60 per cent of the concrete pavement works that we have to do,” he said, adding that pavement of the rest of the general aviation apron will commence, while the IADC tries to pave the turning head at the southern end of the runway at the same time.

The IADC is hoping to start paving the rest of the runway later this month.

Matthias pointed out that the runway will be paved in asphalt, and said that the IADC has all the equipment it needs for that exercise.

“It has been there for sometime, but we wanted to have the concrete pavement works going smoothly first, before we start the asphalt on the runway,” he explained.

“And that work will go into the first quarter of next year,” Mathias said.

‘on track’ for substantial completion 

Concrete works on channeling Yambou River under the runway will begin this week, the IADC says. (IWN photo)
Concrete works on channeling Yambou River under the runway will begin this week, the IADC says. (IWN photo)

“So, we are on track when I say we are going to be substantially complete by December. Substantial completion doesn’t mean total completion. It means that more than 95 per cent of the work that we have to do on construction of the airport will have been finished by the end of this year.”

He said the main job on the earth and site works that remains to be done is channelling the Yambou River under the runway.

The channel through which the river will run under the runway, is already excavated, and the pouring of concrete will begin this week, Matthias said.

He said work on diverting the river was affected by shortage of equipment at the side, where there are 95 pieces of heavy equipment.

“Ninety-five pieces — and we are still short. So, sometimes you are not able to go at the rate that you would like to go,” he said, adding that IADC has been renting equipment from private contractors to make up for the shortfall.

Control tower ‘almost done’

Matthias said the buildings at the airport are “progressing” and that the control tower is “almost done”, and will be handed over this month.

While the airport will miss the 2014 target date for beginning to receive flights, Matthias said that the IADC had done several things to meet that deadline, including buying the fire trucks and scheduling to have them shipped to St. Vincent at this time.

“So, the trucks appear to be early, but not early, because our previous schedule was to have them here for the airport to begin operation in December of this year,” he explained.

He said the trucks will be stored at E.T. Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale, until Argyle is ready to receive them.

Matthias said that the fire station at Argyle is “substantially advanced” and will be handed over this month.

“Indeed, in principle, we can park these equipment out there at Argyle. But that will require the police to come there maybe two or three days a week to start them up and to keep them going. To we have opted to keep them at Arnos Vale, which is far more accessible to them,” he explained.

The terminal building was handed over to the IADC last December and Matthias said the company is in the process of buying several pieces of equipment for the operational stage of the airport.

Matthias said that some project are conceptualise so that the state does the construction and the other agencies of government, like the police and immigration departments and airport operator, buy the equipment that they need to operate the airport.

He, however, said that since the IADC is government owned, it is spearheading all of those activities.

He said that in the coming months, the IADC will be buying other equipment for the terminal building, the biggest of which will be two jet bridges.

Other equipment to be purchased, including conveyor belts, counters, and scanners.

Cargo terminal yet to be built 

The fire trucks are being kept at E.T. Joshua Airport. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebok)
The fire trucks are being kept at E.T. Joshua Airport. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebok)

He further said the IADC is in conversation with two firms that have expressed interest in financing, constructing and operating the cargo terminal.

“The operation of a cargo terminal is a business, so we want to have the private sector involved in that aspect of our work, so that they will design, finance, construct and operate it. And we are hoping that we have this contract signed by January, or February, latest, next year,” he said, adding that construction of the cargo terminal should take three to four months.

He said the cargo terminal will be a small, mainly steel structure.

“In any event, if no private firm builds it, then IADC will build the small cargo terminal,” Matthias said.

He said IADC has leased four parcels of land to three firms to build hangars, and one of those companies has begun to design the structures.

PM pleased

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said at the event that he is pleased with the fire trucks.

He said the three trucks each has a capacity of 3,300 gallons of water, 460 gallons of AFFP/FFFP concentrate and 550 pounds of dry chemical.

In addition to the trucks, there was a container load of spare parts for a year, and supplementary equipment, he said, adding that the purchases cost US$2.7 million.

13 replies on “Rain affecting progress of Argyle Int’l Airport, gov’t says”

  1. You say that, “our previous schedule was to have … the airport to begin operation in December of this year.”

    This means you must have had a schedule of flights coming and going in place. Were these cancelled? Which airlines have committed to using Argyle airport besides LIAT or is this still classified information?

    I contend that no major international airline has shown any interest let alone made a commitment to servicing Argyle airport. Please prove me wrong.

    By the way, please be advised that SVG has an annual rainy season.

    1. What on earth are you talking about man?
      Are you mad?
      I can confirm that con-air will be making regularly scheduled trips to the Argyle international airport.
      There is a long it of air born bodies lining up to land. Let’s see; there is:
      1. Tinkerbelle airlines
      2. Santa Clause carriers
      3. Mustique airways (in negotiation)
      4. Party plain international
      How dare you attempt to smear the respectful airlines that will all be coming to the airport?
      I have half a mind not to come via my catapult anymore.

    2. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      Your last sentence was my immediate reaction – “So what? You mean to say you didn’t plan for rain in JULY???” Crazy people. Or they think we’re all foolish.
      And by the way, I have heard nothing more about the wind studies, which at one point we were told would be completed by the time the airport was ready (!!!). Which civil aviation authorities will approve an airport without this essential information, and which commercial airlines can even begin to discuss a plan to schedule flights without such civil aviation approval? And I heard recently that the LIAT Pilots Association have said that they will not be flying into Argyle – too dangerous.
      Whatever he says, I think our Honourable PM is planning an election soon. We now have THREE new fire engines (paraded through town!) and we have an excuse for any delays in the completion (RAIN in July – surely, that’s what insurers call an Act of God. We couldn’t expect that, could we?), and a stick to beat the current Opposition (“If they annoy me I’ll call an election to see who the people want to finish the airport”), in their refusal to vote on the proposal to borrow more money for the airport. (You know, I thought I heard at the beginning of this exercise that ALL the money needed was available? I must be imagining things – old age, I suppose)

  2. A whole pack of deliberate lies. I have been visiting the control tower twice weekly for the last seven weeks. Although the control room on the top of the tower may be ready by the end of this month. No electrics, electronics or equipment have been installed, its just a shell of a building. The compleation will take another three to six months.

    There are no runway light cables installed. Those cable must end up in the tower for the lights to be controlled from there.

    The 6 miles of security fencing will take many months to install.

    It is a deliberate lie to say the airport will be 95% finished by Christmas. It will not be and cannot be.

    We have been led to believe the airport is very important for our exports, if that is so why will the airport terminal remain unfinished for a very long time.

    As for opening the airport at the end of this year, there we go another lie. That was never possible and will never happen, they all knew that. The airport according to them and Gonsalves was to be opened in 2010. They all knew that was impossible also.

    Why are we fed all this crap.

    Now we will have to put up with the election rubbish, when Gonsalves calls the elections in December of this year. He will beg and plead for another term so as he can complete the airport next year.

    I doubt very much that the airport will be 100% complete and fully operational until 2016/17. That also depends on getting yet more funding, they are running out of money again, they have given a lot of it to the Cubans. They have wasted a lot of it and someone has stolen a lot of it.

    We need a new government just to look into all the corruption which is island wide. We need to lock up some of the thiefs, hold some of the politicians responsible. And bang them up in BellIsle, throw the key away.

    For Gods sake stop the lies, we have had enough.

  3. correction, sorry

    “We have been led to believe the airport is very important for our exports, if that is so why will the airport terminal remain unfinished for a very long time”.

    “terminal” should read “cargo terminal and carg sheds”

  4. Aviation EXPERT, Agricultural EXPERT, Tourism EXPERT, Financial EXPERT, Foreign POLICY EXPERT. You guys possess those qualities . When your party is elected to office all of you would be rewarded with top positions in government. Please do not disappoint Mr EUSTACE.

    1. “Aviation EXPERT, Agricultural EXPERT, Tourism EXPERT, Financial EXPERT, Foreign POLICY EXPERT. You guys possess those qualities.”
      – Now how sad it is that it’s so difficult for you to understand that is possible to have subject experts and not just one man who thinks he’s an expert of everything…….one day, hopefully……. one day

      “When your party is elected to office all of you would be rewarded with top positions in government. Please do not disappoint Mr EUSTACE.”
      – So professionals should only share their opinions in exchange for promised appointments? This is the new standard of our newfound development and the result of all the claimed revolutions?…….one day, hopefully……. one day

  5. Here We Go Again says:

    What would have made more sense would be to tell us how much MORE rainfall came in these months compared to previous years.

  6. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that this year’s hurricane season rainfall has been lower than usual.
    Are there any rainfall figures for this year (or any year for that matter) available from the SVG Met Office that would support Dr Matthias’ assertions?

  7. Since 2011 the airport completion has been promised every year. It is now 2014 and the airport completion which has been promised [yet again] for the end of this year has already been pushed forward to 2015. Come 2015 and I feel in my gut, given the completion history, 2016 will pop up. The Explainer PM think Vincentians at home and abroad is dotish and that any line he run will be accepted. Soon, I believe, the airport construction will end up like the diagnostic institution at Georgetown where the workers turn up every day and just twiddle their thumbs…building on hold…no money. Vincentians are accustomed to a wet and dry season, since when the rainy season is retarding construction of a project [for years]? PM is this your newest excuse? Remember, Vincentians aint dotish!

  8. What foolishness is this? Didn’t Mr Matthias say that you can’t bring in the fire trucks too soon or they would corrode and rust before the airport is done? What did you all bring them in so soon then? they don’t even have a runway to drive on, no one can use them to practice drills or anything.

    They seem to me like they were brought in to say that progress is being made at Argyle when that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wish Argyle could have been operational for election next year I would have been the first to land on it to vote you all out, but it has another 4 years to go. Those fire trucks are going to end up just like the Blood bank van that the government bought that have rotted down, they are going to be parked up for years waiting for the airport to finish. Just overspending our money. But the time will come to give account.


  9. ben-David, we all know that most of what we read in this article is untrue. They cannot even start to land aeroplanes until every inch of the six miles of security fencing is installed.

    There are hundreds of miles of power, lighting and communication cable to be run under the runway, in fact all over the site. There are beacons and lights still to be installed throughout the Grenadine islands including Bequia.

    They still haven’t removed all the granite hill at the northern end which still protrudes into the runway. The rock and soil that they have tried using to reclaim land from the sea is being washed away.

    Horrendous wind, rain and sea blast was there for the 12,000 to 16,000 years. It will still be there when the airport is finished. Unless they call Ralph Canute in to put paid to it all, remember he said we are at war with nature, what a silly Billy.

    During the last nine weeks, I will not be precise for security reasons, an Engineer from Trinidad carried out secret night time compaction tests on the new taxiways, he has recorded numbers between 55% and 69% compaction, way below the permitted standard. I asked and he has agreed not to publish those figures until they finish surfacing the taxiways, waiting to see if they carry out remedial work before exposing the truth.

    The airport is now sitting in a newly formed flood plane, it used to be a series of hills, mountains and valleys, now it’s a wonderful new flood plain with all the surrounding hills draining into it.

    Remember they still haven’t published the wind figures, when they do we will publish ours.

    They still haven’t got any Airlines to sign up for the route. Of course no airline will sign up because at the moment its a dust bowl when its dry and a swamp when its wet, it’s certainly not an airport. No wind studies and compromised engineering.

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