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Canadian Firm To Advise On Repairing Main Nia Runway - 1-, 2003 – 30: 1
The Prime Minister said that much attention has to be given to runway 14/32 as a matter of "compelling urgency."

The Canadian firm, "Earth-Tech" has been contracted by the government to provide engineering consultancy services for the re-construction of eroded runway 14/32, Nassau International Airport's main runway.

The announcement was made in the House of Assembly on Thursday by Prime Minister Perry Christie, after much concern was expressed by the Opposition in relation to the condition of NIA and Family Island airports.

"When it comes to the preservation of the safety of the Bahamian citizen and all visitors to this country, I have no hesitation on a competitive basis, of taking the advice of professionals as to who would best serve The Bahamas government in this instance. That is the process that led us to the selection of this Canadian company," said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said that much attention has to be given to runway 14/32 as a matter of "compelling urgency."

When The Guardian contacted the Acting General Manager of the Airport Authority, Mr. Idris Reid on Monday to inquire about Earth-Tech, he said that negotiations with the company are still in progress, and he would be unable to disclose any further information.

However, another source said that the Canadian firm would be engaging in preliminary engineering work to produce drawings and specifications, before the project goes out to tender.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glenys Hanna-Martin, announced in the House of Assembly in December that the deteriorated runway 14/32 at NIA was estimated to cost some $20 million to repair. the need for repairs had reached a critical stage, she said, and the Airport Authority was presently considering methods to raise capital to effect the necessary repairs.

"A number of methods are being looked at, including the institution of a passenger facility charge. This figure of $20 million does not take into account the repairs to runway 09/27 which are estimated to be $16 million, nor the question of the original airport terminal, which is old and currently in an advanced state of disrepair and deterioration," she said.

An Airport Advisory Committee appointed on Jan. 2 1999, prior to the creation of the Airport Authority, in a report dated June 17, 1999, observed generally, that, at NIA, "the conditions of disrepair got worse, and action was only taken when problems threatened serious disruptions to overall operations."

The Committee, to which present Acting Airport General Manager Mr Reid, a retired Permanent Secretary, then seved as secretary, also expressed "considerable concern" over the "non-collection of landing fees from air carriers."

Total amounts receivable at the time, including landing fee payments, were listed as $11,236,497.47, including an indebtedness by Bahamasair Holdings of $6,783,926.97.

The Committee also recommended that the Airport Authority be headed by an Airport General Manager, with responsibility for a variety of technical services, including Maintenance and Airport Engineering.

Despite advertisements being placed over a year ago for an Airport General Manager, no winning candidate for the post was ever announced.

The 1999 report concluded that NIA in its entirety, is a poorly maintained facility, which is not representative of the high standards essential for The Bahamas.

Minister Hanna-Martin said in December, 2002, also, that several opinions had been sought from international consultants, who conducted reviews of NIA, in regard to its pavements, runway lighting, expansion of aprons, runways and the development of a master plan for the further development of the airport, taking into consideration all airport facilities, anticipated traffic and development over the next 25 years.

She said that each report from the various consultants confirmed the original advice tendered to the government in 1998, that the need for repairs to the runways at NIA, especially runway 14/32, was a matter of critical urgency.

In 1999, the government appointed an advisory committee to look into the operations of NIA and make appropriate recommendations for the improvement of that facility.

By Tamara McKenzie, The Nassau Guardian 

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