ST Helena will finally have its airport announced Governor Mark Capes yesterday.
In a statement he notes "We are pleased to announce that the Secretary of State's conditions have now been met, and that we have today entered into a contract with Basil Read (Pty) Ltd in the amount of £201.5 million for the design and construction of the airport, an additional up to £10 million in shared risk contingency, and £35.1 million for ten years of operation. This represents a saving of more than 20% in real terms from the 2008 price, taking into account inflation and the value of the pound."
The statement continues: on July 22, 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, confirmed DFID's willingness to finance an airport for St Helena on condition that:• an acceptable contract price is achieved;• the risk of cost and time overruns after the award of the contract is addressed;• the airport design using Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) is approved by Air Safety Support International: and the St Helena Government undertake to implement the reforms needed to open the island's economy to inward investment and increased tourism.
Since that announcement our Government has been working hard on the necessary reforms, not just to meet the Secretary of State's condition, but to put in place a legal and policy framework that would allow us to make the most of the opportunities that any future airport would bring. These reforms are vital. Without them we would not be able to justify the investment in an airport. The September 2011 review of progress concluded that the reform process is substantially on track and that there are robust plans in place for ensuring that the work will continue. The report will be issued today.
This is momentous news for St Helena. The airport will be the largest single investment ever made in our island. It is an expression of confidence by the UK Government in St. Helena's future. It will give us the best chance we will ever have of reversing the economic decline of the last 50 years. Saints currently overseas will be encouraged to come back home and contribute to a growing economy. Getting on and off the island will be easier, quicker, and more convenient for everybody.
In the short term it will create new jobs, not only on the airport construction itself but also in supporting industries. The airport will also encourage development of the tourism infrastructure that we will need to accommodate new visitors to our island. New jobs will allow Saints to return to St Helena and to their families.The airport will inevitably bring changes, and we will need to work together to make sure that these are changes for the better. Working closely with the UK Government, SHG is committed to ensuring that St Helena gains maximum benefit from this investment.
The DFID Project Manager for the airport will visit St Helena in January and we will use this as an opportunity to talk with you in your local communities about the airport and the future.
Lastly, I would like to pay tribute to Sharon Wainwright. Her dedication to this project, and her resilience in the face of the many and significant difficulties experienced in bringing it to fruition cannot be measured and is something to which we can all aspire. I would also like to give special thanks to Clare Harris for her unstinting work through the years, stepping up after the loss of Sharon, and helping to deliver this outcome.