ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Non-resident Ambassador to China David Shoul is predicting that construction of the new multi-million dollar airport terminal “will begin to move fairly rapidly in the next two weeks.”
Shoul, who negotiated the US $47 million loan from the Chinese government, is also optimistic that the foundation of the state-of-the art facility will be completed in two months.
“Containers have begun to arrive. They have already begun to lay-out the marks to do the foundation. They are building the foundation for the tower cranes and things will begin to move quickly from there,” Shoul said yesterday on state television.
While pleased that the country is getting a new airport terminal he expressed frustration and unhappiness that the government now has to seek to buy back for the expansion, “lands that should never have been sold.”
Government is negotiating for the acquisition of just over six acres of land owned by convicted fraudster R Allen Stanford in the environs of the VC Bird International Airport.
Stanford purchased them for just over EC $1 a square foot but Ambassador Shoul said the price put on the table now ranges from EC $18 to $22.
The ambassador described the set back as an “inconvenience” but said officials are “working around” thanks to some “good ideas and planning from” those at the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority.
In January, The Daily OBSERVER reported that the Baldwin Spencer administration might not have to cough up a large sum of money to reacquire two parcels of land.
Reliable government sources had said the cash-strapped administration has agreed in principle with the Stanford Development Company (SDC) to take over its debt to APUA in exchange for immediate title ownership of the six acres in question.
The terminal is expected to be completed by December 2013.
Meantime Shoul has revealed that China’s vice minister of Commerce will lead a high-level delegation to St John’s beginning next Friday.
“When he comes, he will sign an economic and trade co-operation for 30 million RMB. That will go towards the construction of the new school at Five Islands. That is a grant. Then we will sign one for another 30 million RMB which is interest free,” he explained.
Shoul said the use of the loan “has to be decided.”