THE cost of Port Vila airport’s domestic car park and the plans for runway re-surfacing remain unanswered despite a response from Airport Vanuatu Limited.On March 31, The Independent ran a front page story titled ‘Concerns over airport’.
It did not have any comment from AVL as they had not returned several calls from Independent editor Tony Wilson.
The story originated because of serious concerns raised by several key Port Vila businessmen about certain issues involving AVL.
The two major points of the story were that the cost of new concrete car park at the domestic airport had blown out by VT 11 million and that the AVL board was not in communication with Aus Aid and the World bank over significant funding for the critical resurfacing of the runway which is due next year.
The Independent finally received response from AVL on April 11 and we publish it here unedited for our readers who may not subscribe to other media.
The reply confirms the VT 11 million blow-out in carpark construction costs, but does not explain how this was allowed to happen. Sadly the Independent has heard from two sources this week that the blow-out is actually ma much higher figure, but AVL is not commenting beyond the written reply.
That reply also claims that AVL is still talking with AusAid over the runway re-surfacing, but mentions a geotechnical study of VT 60 million available. The Independent does not understand why any study on this is required.
It also talks about selling the airport to a foreign company which could raise employment concerns, but The Independent never raised this issue in the original article.
The unedited AVL response follows:
" The independence (sic) issue no. 424 March 31st 2012, raised several issues which put blame on the current management of Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) to award a contract for works to the deteriorating state of the domestic car park.
AVL wish to advise all stakelholders (sic) and the business community especially the Port Vila business identities that have contacted the government with regards to the cost of the car park that the cost have blown out by vt 11 million. The car park currently under reconstruction was a careful analysis of study undertaken to ensure that a proper car park must be done so that unnecessary cost do not recur in the future.
AVL has tendered for the works of the domestic car park through local media news papers through a transparent tendering process. The tender was an open and fair process which all companies bidding for the works were present. The award of the contract was not necessarily awarded to the lowest or the highest bidder. The careful selection and the shortlist of several bidders were done in a professional manner. Several factors which must be met to ensure it complies with the tendering process, hence the award was given to the company that can deliver in a time scale prior to the ACP EU conference in June.
This is not an easy task to undertake given the pressures being applied by the government to have the airport provide proper parking space. The budget for the car park was renegotiated to ensure that it provides for adequate space and the durability and longevity to sustain future maintenance work.
The issue of the domestic car park has been a long standing issue from the last management and the board of directors which have not address (sic) the issue until the new AVL board and CEO have been allocated the task of completion of the car park and related infrastructure problems including terminals, VIP terminal building and the cargo shed which is at present has not been completed (sic).
Currently the government through the shareholding ministry have undertaken the business arm of the World Bank, International Financial Corporation (IFC) to provide a study to see whether AVL would be best suited to be run by a conglomerated (sic) under a Public Private Partnership (PPP). This would allow the airport to be owned by a foreign company presumably buying off the shares of the Vanuatu Government to run the airport. The concept has been widely used at bigger airports around the world and even smaller airports with passenger flows of over a million passengers per annum.
The current management and the board believe that the current structure of AVL can sustain the medium to long term strategies of the airport without jeopardizing the current local workforce which will ultimately be made redundant as a result of the PPP issue. The runway resurfacing is a big issue that needs donor assistance. Which the current management stressed that it must continue under the Ausaid funded scheme. There is a geotechnical study of 60 million vatu available. All it needs is the agreement and the acceptance of the government to continue with this process. "
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