Government is holding an opening ceremony featuring Prince Charles next Wednesday for the redeveloped Owen Roberts International Airport terminal, but the project will not be finished by then.

This information was conveyed to the Compass in response to a records request made more than a year ago, seeking an estimated final cost for the terminal redevelopment. Cayman Islands Airports Authority officials have maintained that they cannot say what the project will cost because construction is still ongoing.

The CIAA said last June that the project’s final cost will be made public once redevelopment is finalised, which will likely be during the first quarter of 2019. Given that government is holding an opening ceremony for the project next week, the Compass followed up to see whether a final cost can now be released.

However, the Office of the Ombudsman said, “The CIAA advised that they are unable to comply with the agreed date of deferral, as the re-development project is still ongoing … the project is envisaged to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2019.”

Among the work needed to be completed is the opening of the 17 concession slots at the revamped airport. When a Compass reporter was in the terminal on March 6, there were fewer than four stores open and work was still being conducted on the side of the terminal facing the runway.

The CIAA did not immediately respond to Compass enquiries about how many concession slots will be open and what work will remain to be done when Prince Charles visits for the opening ceremony next Wednesday.

While the CIAA has declined to release a cost estimate for the project, the 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.

Construction work is under way at Owen Roberts International Airport Wednesday morning. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

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 in January, 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 in the report, 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 on 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.