The total estimated cost of the Owen Roberts International Airport upgrade was around $64 million as of last August, an overrun of some $10.5 million from original contract prices, according to a report on the project from the Office of the Auditor General.
The audit report attributed the cost overruns to additional features added to the development, as well as project delays.
According to the report, the Airports Authority made multiple changes to the project after it started, including upgrading the hurricane-impact windows, adding canopies to protect passengers and baggage from the weather, upgrading banners on the roof, landscaping around the airport, and adding other designs such as the duty-free mall and the CIAA offices.
The report, completed in August last year, but released on Monday this week, estimated that these changes added nearly $5 million to the redevelopment price.
“Almost $5 million of these cost increases are as a result of additions in scope made to the project after contracts were signed, including hurricane rated glass and canopies,” stated Auditor General Sue Winspear, adding, “Making changes to the scope of a project after a contract has been signed is not good practice.”
Other cost overruns were attributed to project delays.
For example, flaws in the designs of the electrical works led to an eight-week delay in construction starting for Phase 2 of the project, according to the report. Awarding the contract for the baggage-handling system was also 10 months late due to poor quality of tender materials, the report states.
“These delays have resulted in the project being rescheduled on more than one occasion and have contributed to increased costs,” the report states.
The report included a table that outlines how much each phase of the project has increased in cost.
The contract for the design, cost and contract administration consultant – awarded to RS&H in January 2015 – increased from $4.1 million in August 2016 to $4.32 million two years later. Likewise, Arch & Godfrey’s contract for the Phase 1 construction increased from $3.6 million in August 2016 to $3.79 million last August. The cost of the baggage handling system, being implemented by B&F Airport Systems, also increased from $2.5 million to $2.81 million. The largest increase was for Phase 2 and 3 construction, with contractor McAlpine Ltd. revising its price from $42.5 million in August 2016 to $52.4 million in August 2018.
One line item in the report’s table is redacted, but the total estimated increase was from $53.8 million in August 2016 to $64.37 million in August 2018.
As recently as December 2017, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told the public that the airport upgrade was on target to meet its $55 million budget.
But last April, CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said that is no longer the case, as changes were made to the project that increased its price tag.
“We know there have been change orders, we know the project will cost more than $55 million, but negotiations are ongoing and that’s pretty much all I can say at this point,” he said at the time.
At an event marking the opening of the facility’s new departure lounge last May, Mr. Anderson again acknowledged there had been budget overruns, which he attributed to a mix of unforeseen problems and additional features added to the design.
He said at the time that the redevelopment would likely be around 10 percent over budget once complete. The audit report completed in August upped that figure to about 20 percent over budget.
However, the audit report also estimated that the project would be finalized by next month, and the Airports Authority said in an email last week that officials are “optimistic” that the project may be completed by the end of March. The email was in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information request being pursued by the Compass to ascertain exactly how much the cost and the scope of the airport upgrade has increased since its inception.
“We are still optimistic of the project being finalized by the end of March 2019, and of the information being released shortly thereafter,” CIAA Information Manager Carlene Logan wrote last Wednesday, providing an update on when the authority will comply with the Compass’s records request.