Plans to cut dredging go to cruise lines

| 15/11/2016 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The tourism ministry councillor, Joey Hew, has claimed that the cruise port’s new design reduces the dredging footprint, as government prepares to begin the tender process for the controversial project, which it maintains will be underway before the election. With the tourism ministry’s review of the revised design plans completed, Hew said they had gone back to the engineers and the cruise lines for testing. Speaking at the George Town PPM branch meeting, he spoke of a sense of urgency surrounding the project, which had been played down earlier in the week, by Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell.

When he spoke to a group of travel agents and other industry stakeholders from overseas as he opened the Department of Tourism’s annual showcase, Kirkconnell told the audience that government was seeking a balance between cruise and overnight guests. He said government was making “slow and steady” progress, as he pointed to the revised plans being less environmentally harmful. Kirkconnell said that the expansion of cruise tourism should not be at the expense of overnight tourism.

However, speaking to the party faithful a few days later, Hew said that there was a need to move the project along, not just to get the cruise dock underway but to improve the cargo facilities, so that Cayman would be able to accommodate the new larger ships being introduced by Thompson Shipping, which he said would cut the cost of shipping.

Hew said government was now focused on costing the project and that the prequalification for it would be complete before the end of this year and before the end of the first quarter next year, when he said the RFP would be issued. If government wins the 2017 election, he suggested that construction would start before the end of next year.

But the fundamental questions of how much it will cost and who pays remain unanswered.

Government has insisted that it will not give up anything and that the piers will remain in public hands, and there will be no upland development – even though sources tell CNS that the Dart group of companies has again expressed an interest in the project and government will give no financial guarantees. Based on the business case, government believes the piers will be paid for through increased passenger fees and the diversion of the money that currently goes to the tender operators.

However, there are major concerns about the economics as well as the environment. Many people do not believe that the finances add up and the public purse will end up footing part of the bill for a project that will mostly benefit the cruise lines, a handful of larger merchants and a very small number of local operators. The project does not have wide support among the community, and although it may become an election issue, both of the major parties support developing cruise berthing.

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Category: Construction, Cruise Tourism, Local Business, Tourism

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This expansion clearly butters the bread of the Kirkconnells, Thompsons, CCL/RCL, and possibly Dart. Where is the proposal that has THEM financing this? It ought not to cost the public a dime given the benefit to everyone but the public. All the brainwashed cabbies that think this will be good for them, will be replaced by experience-controlled liner-operated busses, just like every other port that has done this before us. The little guys and ma and pa businesses will be crushed and squeezed out of the pie altogether.

  2. Anonymous says:

    PPM Just get the dock built and you will win the next election.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This makes me SICK! If this even hints at going through the PPM can forget about getting my vote this coming time around!

  4. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

  5. Anonymous says:

    We, the people, will end up paying for it. PPM will have us paying for rich merchants and their duty free businesses or a deal made with dart for the upland development or a combo of both. No shame vote them all out

  6. Anonymous says:

    People of the Caymans Say NO to crony capitalism!

  7. POLITRICKS 101 says:

    This decision to move forward at all costs could result in the final act of political suicide for this PPM government led by Premier Alden McLaughlin plus his MLA’s Marco Archer, Kurt Tibbetts, Osbourne Bodden, Wayne Panton, Roy McTaggart and Joey Hew.

    It is fair to bet that the two MLA’s from Cayman Brac will retain their seats and have nothing to lose under the circumstances but the other members of PPM seem unwilling to listen to the logic and legitimate concerns expressed by multiple stakeholders and citizens of the Cayman Islands.

    The Outline Business Case prepared by PWC by has been used as the justification but was littered with disclaimers by the consultants. It is fair to conclude that the costs of the entire project will increase beyond the projections of CI$150-200 million due to a new design, marine environmental mitigation & impacts and the proposed moving the berthing/piers into deeper waters.

    Are the PPM being secretive with the full details of this project because they are afraid to admit that their estimates are off and the project could cost the public purse over CI$350 million by the end?

    Where is the transparency? Public funds will be used to pay for the expensive dreams of this government. Would the PPM and MLA’s gamble with their own monies to placate and benefit a select few friends, family members and political supporters? Probably not but each should be asked to explain how and why they support this project at all costs. Let us never forget the multiple reasons the Framework For Fiscal Responsibility was enacted into local law and demanded by the FCO.

    Who is going to finance this project? Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean or a wealthy investor like the DART group but on what terms? Does that include any form of upland development?

    Are tendering services done in the Cayman Islands? What happens on days when there are 5-8 cruise ships in port? The proposed cruise berthing facility can only dock four ships (the plan is to build two piers) Mr. Hew has publicly stated the CI$5.00 per passenger head tax currently used to pay the tender boat operators will be used to pay our partners in this Public Private Partnership.

    Does anybody believe this project will only cost the people of the Cayman Islands CI$200m as the magical figured quoted by the PPM yet the Outline Business Case estimated total costs of CI$150m?

    The recent statement by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkonnell was lacking in depth, substance and details while timelines mentioned by Mr. Hew on behalf of the PPM seem impossible to achieve but there is an election to be won at all costs so it appears full steam ahead the consequences be damned.

    A few questions that the PPM appear unwilling or unable to answer:

    1. Where is the financing model they promised to share with general public?

    2. Who are the cruise line partners in the PPP and how much are they legally obligated to contribute to finance and build the CBF? Is there a guarantee for the total number of passengers calling into port which will pay for the project? What are the full terms and length of the arrangement in the PPP?

    3. What has been spent to date by the PPMto move the project forward to this point? What is the total budget for this project?

    4. Has the FCO given its approval considering this project will require a financing agreement of some kind and new debt with the financing partner added to CIG balance sheet?

    5. Where are the full details for public review BEFORE the PPM commits generations to another massive amount of debt and another white elephant project like the Clifton Hunter High School and the other derlict projects like the John Gray High School and the other incomplete schools?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Before going to tender why not show us the new plans and explain how it cuts the dredging. Or are they afraid to do that. sounds like a Dart move they are marking: “move things along then tell the public what they are doing. Don’t consult or inform early.”

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