Govt eyes Chinese loan for second BIA terminal | Sunday Observer

Govt eyes Chinese loan for second BIA terminal

The Government is now eyeing a US$ 550 million loan from China for the construction of a second permanent passenger terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), since discussions to obtain a Japanese loan for the project have not been successful, the Sunday Observer learns.

Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Ashok Abeysinghe said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been offering a higher estimate for the project despite a much lower estimate by the State Engineering Corporation.

“We are in immediate need of a second terminal and JICA gave us an estimate for its construction,” he said, adding that however, the cost is much higher than the local valuation.

“We cannot take an excessive loan as ultimately the Government will have to pay it,” he said. According to the Deputy Minister, the government is now in discussion with JICA to lower the amount of the loan. “If it fails, we will explore the possibility of cooperating with other other parties, hopefully, China,” he said.

Last week, the Government decided to award the contract to construct the interim terminal, worth US$ 17 million, to the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. At present, the BIA has only one terminal with the capacity to handle six million passengers annually. However, last year the BIA had handled more than 9.4 million passengers.

The interim terminal would increase capacity by two million and after the completion of the second permanent terminal, the BIA’s annual passenger capacity is expected increase up to 20 million passengers, according to the Deputy Minister. In the meantime, trade unions at Airport and Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (AAASL) allege that the authority is planning to privatise the management of the interim terminal.

The Secretary of Inter Company Employees Union, Janaka Adhikari said that privatising the interim terminal is another step in a series of ‘outsourcing’ events at the BIA premises.

“The management started off with the BIA car park. It was a lucrative business for the airport. But they transferred its management to a private party,” he charged.

According to Adhikari, the administrative expense of the car park has also increased after the management was taken over by the private investor. However, speaking to the Sunday Observer, Deputy Minister Abeysinghe as well as the Vice President of AAASL, Capt. Milinda Ratnayake denied these allegations.

“No decision has been taken to privatise either of the terminals,” they said.