Helipad construction budget swells 15 times initial estimate to 9 billion 440 million yen

Helipad construction budget swells 15 times initial estimate to 9 billion 440 million yen

Private security company employees surrounding tents set up by local citizens who were protesting helipad construction in the NTA in July 2016.

June 20, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Japanese government’s initial budget for the construction of helipads in the Northern Training Area (NTA) encompassing four helipads on three construction sites was approximately 610 million yen. However, on June 19 it came to light that in large part due to security costs, the expenses have swollen 15 times the initial amount to 9 billion 440 million yen. Tsuyoshi Kitaueda of the Peace Citizens’ Liaison Committee has publicly announced documents he procured from the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) that it disclosed to him under legal obligation through freedom of information law, and that he received from House of Councillors member Mizuho Fukushima.
Although helipad construction finished in December last year, related construction such as that of entry roads still remains to be done. As such, the Japanese government has arranged for security through to the end of August. Security costs in the period just short of a year between September 15, 2016 and the end of August this year will come to 6 billion 300 million yen. That means the cost of security per day comes to about 18 million yen. Kitaueda said that it is costing the Japanese government an enormous sum to force through construction that should have remained at 600 million yen in expenses.
The originally agreed upon costs for helipad construction were 189 million yen for the N1 Zone, 252 million yen for the G Zone, and 218 million 800 thousand yen for the H Zone.
However, after the initial agreement, the ODB made contractual changes in order to “safely move construction forward.” These changes included air transport of heavy equipment by helicopters, security, temporary installments for use by security personnel, and maintenance of roads used for construction. This brought construction costs from 610 million yen to a total of 3 billion 140 million yen.
In addition to those changes, in order to deal with protest demonstrations against helipad construction, on September 15, 2016 the cost of security operations began being listed as a separate expense, no longer under construction costs. By August two security companies based in Tokyo, Shogo Security Services and Teikei, will have earned about 3 billion 147 million yen and 3 billion 158 million yen for security operations, respectively.
The ODB is currently suspending construction in observance of the Okinawa woodpecker’s nesting season from March through June. Kitaueda said: “Because landing strips have been completed, and furthermore construction is suspended, there are currently no large protest demonstrations. However, even now there are many security personnel stationed in front of the gates. The government is wasting a great sum of public funds.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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