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  • Writer's pictureClara

Government to borrow US$45 m. for more airport work

23 July 2020.

The Government of Saint Lucia will secure finance to meet international air transport standards and improve the climate resilience of the Country’s Airport Infrastructure.

According to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Allen Chastanet the weaknesses in the airport infrastructure and operations have been ignored for far too long, and the country must capitalize on this opportunity which has presented itself.

“The project considers Saint Lucia’s resilience in the air transport sector and seeks to respond to the immediate environmental risk factors by, supporting the Government of Saint Lucia to better manage the impact of shocks and adapt to changing circumstances through the improvement of climate resilience in airport infrastructure and systems,” said Prime Minister Chastanet.

The Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Project was brought to the House of Assembly on Tuesday where the motion was moved to borrow US$45 million.

The project consists of five main parts, namely: Operational Safety which will see the improvement of the operational safety and flood disaster resilience of the runway at Hewannorra International Airport, and support for SLASPA’s compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s standards. Modernization of the Air Navigation Systems, Strengthening Institutional Capacity, Project Management and Contingent Emergency Response.

“From since 2013, Saint Lucia has been red flagged by the Universal Oversight Audit Programme of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which raised concerns about the country’s ability to properly oversee the airports, aircraft and air navigation services. Our existing airport infrastructure and navigation system is, in many areas non-compliant with international standards on safety oversight,” Prime Minister Chastanet noted. “Our airports serve as our primary gateways to the outside world, and we must make the necessary investments in improving their safety and resilience.”

The funds for the Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Project will be sourced from the International Development Association (IDA) the terms of the loan being largely concessional carrying a low interest rate and a lengthy grace period.

Minister for Infrastructure Stephenson King also spoke in support of the motion stating, “the resurfacing of the runway is important at this time as it is clearly very worn and in need of attention. Our airport cannot remain susceptible to flooding which can ultimately ground all air transport for days. COVID-19 gives us a unique opportunity to start this work.”

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