Business

Overdue BIA interim terminal won’t begin construction at least till March

* Construction to commence earliest by March, 2019 owing to FR case

* Maga has appealed tender awarding to Chinese company

Construction of the long delayed interim departure terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is unlikely to be set up at least till March, 2019.
The Sunday Morning Business reliably learns that a Fundamental Rights application filed by Maga Engineering (Pvt.) Ltd. is set to be taken up next at the Supreme Court on 28 February, 2019, and until that, construction will not commence.
Maga – one of the six companies which bid for the construction of the interim terminal – scored the highest points in the evaluation, and was recommended by the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee to be awarded the project.
However, on an appeal by the China State Construction Engineering Cooperation, the Procurement Appeal Board overturned this decision and awarded it to the Chinese company, which subsequently received Cabinet approval.
Following the awarding of the project to the China State Construction Engineering Cooperation and the Cabinet approval, Maga appealed to the Supreme Court.
An interim terminal to facilitate two million departing passengers was first announced in November, 2017, as the existing terminal handles approximately 10 million passengers per year, even though it was designed to handle only six million.
The interim terminal itself was a result of the delay in constructing a permanent terminal, which was deferred as the bids from the Japanese companies were far higher than the engineer estimate.
The $ 19 million interim terminal project was set to take off when the Cabinet of Ministers gave approval for it to be awarded to China State Construction Engineering Cooperation on 3 October. However, due to the appeal by Maga, no work has been commenced.
Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation G.S. Withanage, speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, explained the tender process.
“Whatever the recommendations made by the Cabinet-appointed Tender Board, we have to inform the unsuccessful bidders. An unsuccessful bidder may be in a position to appeal the decisions or recommendations made by the Tender Board to the Procurement Appeal Board. Then, the Procurement Appeal Board goes to the Presidential Appeal Board. Until then, we can’t award a project.”
When contacted an official from Maga, a comment was refused to be given on this issue, as it was an ongoing case.
The BIA has more than 170 aircraft movements per day, including an average of more than 60 movements of heavy aircraft per day. The capacity crunch caused by a six-million-passenger terminal handling 10 million passengers results in hours of delays – particularly as passengers try to collect their baggage.
According to the 2017 annual report of the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd., the airport experiences heavy congestion in both arrival and departure zones, as well as vehicular traffic – particularly during peak hours.
However, The Sunday Morning Business reliably learns that an apron with more than 23 parking bases is under construction, bringing the total number of parking bases to 48.
The construction work is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
Likewise, other expansion activities including the expansion of the lounge area, relocation of the immigration office, rearrangement of electronic shopping stores, and walkways management are being carried out at the BIA.
The permanent terminal was to be built with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and one of the main conditions of the agreement was that the construction would be given to a Japanese company. However, both Japanese bidders had quoted far higher than the engineer estimate, with the lowest bid reported to have been 45% higher, and the other 96% higher.
As JICA refused to reconsider the funding condition, the subsequent negotiations failed, which compelled the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation to resort to building an interim terminal. (MT)