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Deputy Premier defends costly cruise port project

| 02/06/2016 | 91 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cruise ships and tenders in the George Town harbour, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has defended government’s decision to press ahead with the controversial and costly cruise berthing project and revealed that four engineering consultant firms have been pre-qualified to bid on the next contract in the process. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, he said that consultants to cost out and define the re-design for piers in deeper water would be selected this month and that talks continued over the financing model.

Although Kirkconnell suggested that the project was moving along and is a necessary project to save the cruise sector, only $500,000 has been allocated for the project in the forthcoming 18-month budget, indicating that government is not expecting to get much further along in the process before this current parliament is prorogued next March. However, Finance Minister Marco Archer included the project as one of his drivers of growth over the next 18 months.

With ongoing community concerns about the significant cost of the project and opposition from tourism stakeholders and the public due to of environmental concerns and infrastructure pressures, Kirkconnell, who is also the deputy premier, used his budget address to justify the project.

He claimed it was needed to get cruise passengers onto the island and enjoy the attractions as quickly as possible. With no upland development, there would be no intrusion into established markets but it would boost business for local people in the tourism sector, he said.

In an updated Outline Business Case published in October 2015, the consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that the data is insufficient to justify the project and in some scenarios it could lead to serious economic losses along with the environmental ones.

Nevertheless, Kirkconnell said government had agreed to review the pier designs to find a more environmentally friendly approach by moving the piers into deeper water.

“Throughout the process the government’s objective is to arrive at an outcome of maximum economic benefit for Cayman with the least impact on the marine environment,” he said, adding that so far the rework of the designs indicated it is possible to do less dredging by moving the piers.

With the request for proposals for the consultants almost complete, he said, government was still talking with the cruise lines over a funding model and once a financial model was agreed, the ministry would report that to Cabinet and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Kirkconnell, who is closely related to the owners of Kirk Freeport, one of the main beneficiaries of the project and one of only a handful of businesses that have publicly declared its full support, said the entire process had followed best practice. The minister insisted it had been open and transparent and government could not have gathered more expert advice or information to inform its decisions.

Stating that government was aware that pursuit of cruise berthing should not be at the expense of overnight visitors, he said he believed the piers would provide economic benefit and maintain Cayman’s competitiveness in the cruise market, especially with the opening of Cuba as a potential port of call.

As well as the certain destruction of coral reef and other marine habitat, there are concerns about the cost. Government still beleives that the project, which could cost as much as $300 million, could be funded by passenger fees, even though, according to figures given by the finance minister in his budget address, the Port Authority’s revenue was down last year, with a $2.2 million shortfall in its targeted surplus, despite an increase in imports and cruise passengers.

Regardless of the many challenges and controversies surrounding the project, Premier Alden McLaughlin also gave his backing to pressing ahead with the proposal, while admitting that the redesign will increase the cost.

“It is planned to move the cruise piers into deeper water, which will doubtless drive up the cost of the project, but will provide greater protection of the near shore marine environment. This next step, which will include civil engineering design works and full costing, represents significant progress and is needed for the financing model for this project,” he said in his budget policy statement.

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Category: development, Government Finance, Local News, Marine Environment, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (91)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    kirkbots….well done on corrupting another website…..but just know the people on the street will never be fooled…… …..ppm RIP.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    We have lost 27% of the worlds coral reefs. If present rates of destruction are allowed to continue, 60% of the worlds coral reefs will be destroyed over the next 30 years. Less than one quarter of 1% of the marine environment , coral reefs are home to more than 25% of all known marine fish species. Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year. The cost of destroying 1km of coral reef ranges between US$137,000- 1,200,000 over a 25 year period. The cost of cleaning up the environment for a better future, priceless.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    The North Sound already has a bunch of canal passages, why not move the Port Authority to northern end of the Island, and expand the current Port Authority location to accommodate the cruise lines.

    However, New Port Authority location can also include a Cruise Dock to accommodate, at least 2 Cruise Ships. We are now opening the North Sound dykes with new roads so, again, accessing the port should be a problem. Right?

    I know the that appeal is to improve our Tourism Industry and Products, and consequently work on to return our Tourism Industry to No. 1.

    Yes, the DART Enterprise and Kirkconnells (and the likes) will benefit greatly from this move, but will also provide lucrative opportunities for other (small) businesses – present and future – located near the (two) ports.

    What is now needed are some good engineers, high quality construction, cost efficiency, etc.

    So, let’s do it!




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  4. Harauguer says:

    Move the gad damm stinking dump!




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  5. LudditeSupernova says:

    There will be no more development until the dump is fixed.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Every government for the last 15 years no matter what party or family last name, connections and no connections had put the cruise dock as a major priority.
    It just so happens this PPM government is the only one getting things done.
    Cruise dock will get done.
    Airport is getting done.
    Dump will get done.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    The story should, of course, begin “The hopelessly conflicted Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell whose family stands to gain financially from the proposed scheme. . . . “




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    • Anonymous says:

      Kirkbot-tastic.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Distant cousins with the same last name but absolutely no common business ownership or interests. Hmmmm. If that defines “hopelessly conflicted” then we might have a huge problem with the Ebank’s, Bodden’s, Powery’s, McField’s, Archer’s, Tibbetts’, Scott’s, Wood’s, Whittaker’s, Watler’s, Hew’s, Bush’s, Panton’s, McLaughlin’s, Mclean’s, McTaggarts, etc., etc.
      Looks like we are going to need new blood and some new last names if we want to actually get anything done around here.




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      • Diogenes says:

        Yep. How many “outsiders” free from conflicts on the boards, then, do you suppose? And why?




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      • Anonymous says:

        The Deputy Premier family stands to benefit significantly from the port development and he will do anything to get that port built while risking the destructing of seven mile beach.




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      • Anonymous says:

        We do.Thats the point.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Hopelessly conflicted because his family – that owns and operates a legitimate business – stands to gain? What would you prefer… don’t build the dock and let hundreds, if not thousands of Caymanians, that depend on the cruise ship industry, face hardship and unemployment when the ships stop coming? I wonder what would you say then?

      So what if his family stands to gain alongside the other Caymanians?
      Don’t cut your nose to spite your face.




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      • Diogenes says:

        Anyone who was genuinely interested in putting the perception of bias, as well as actual bias, beyond question, would recuse himself from the issue – hand it over to the Chief Officer or someone else to manage. I am afraid your view – so what if his family gets an economic interest from his decision making – only adds fuel to the Legge assertion. See, the problem with your logic is that you assume that as long as a decision maker benefits others as well as his own interest, its OK. But you don’t ask whether the benefit to others – or the costs and risks taken – would have been better had the decision been made on strictly neutral terms..




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      • Anonymous says:

        What would you prefer 2:09, build the dock and destroy hundreds if not thousands of marine life and ignore the environmental hazard and risk the health of hundreds if not thousands of caymanians by keeping them exposed to the cancerous elements of the dump? The sacrifice here is bs. You have no right to touch that coral and every right to sort the enviornmental hazard out. The CIG is creating more enviornmental hazards. You want to sacrifice something for the well being of this island? Learn to sacrifice your wallet. Corruption at it’s finest ladies and gentlemen.




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      • ROI says:

        Why should we have to pay to prop up any Caymanian family businesses? The GT merchants who will get the direct benefit should raise the funds and invest in the port. Lead by example.

        The majority do not need the cruise port just the the merchants focus on other priorities that benefit the majority not just a select few merchants with public funds.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    There is no defense for this.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    The marine environment needs to be protected from the incompetent Caymanian politicians.




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  10. I Love Cayman says:

    My family doesn’t live in George Town and we voted for these guys to get rid of the sorry leadership we had. It looks like we will have to try again!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Are you for real? By what yardstick did you measure these guys against the previous ‘sorry leadership’ as you put it, and conclude they’re the same? Missing the corruption, back room deals and handouts, or are the bright lights of transparency and best practice too bright for YOUR eyes?




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  11. Anonymous says:

    There are laws in place to protect the coral from damage, unfortunatley those laws don’t protect it from the money hungry in power.




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  12. Diogenes says:

    You have to laugh or you would cry. The Department of Tourism have issued an RFP for expert advice on managing tourism numbers, stating that the levels of seasonal visitors from the existing cruise ship visits are straining the infrastructure, detracting from the quality of life for locals and driving away stay over tourists, whilst at the same time their boss is commissioning studies to build piers to increase the numbers of cruise ship tourists. Are they in the same building? Do they talk to each other?




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    • Anonymous says:

      5th floor versus 3rd floor.
      3rd floor people don’t won’t to go to the 5th floor( and who can blame them)
      And 5th floorers well the elevator only stops at the ground floor or basement.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone notice the tight timeline for the report on managing visitor numbers? I suspect it will contain an obvious statement that improved cruise facilities are likely to exacerbate the problem of overcrowding and degradation of the product. That will be another argument – one paid for and backed up by FFR-approved consultant advice – that the pro-port group, including Minister Kirkconnell, will have to answer. Seems the DoT is getting crafty.




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    • Once again I repeat what I have said for many years.If we continue to try to increase our cruise visitors numbers WITHOUT doing a comprehensive study on what this island can handle comfortably(in other words a carrying capacity)we will continue to make life more difficult for locals re congestion on our roads at our attractions(s/ray city,turtle farm botanical gardens and others)we will certainly succeed in driving away our STAY over visitors.When the a/port is completed(long overdue) our stay over visitors WILL increase as we be able to bring in long haul Jets from further away than what we do at present.All this HAS to be put into the equation of a CARRYING CAPACITY which will benefit ALL our partners in tourism and I know that many of you out there, think more is better but think again as that will only lead to more crowded conditions and less numbers in the long run when people see how the island will have lost its attraction to many long time visitors.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    Push on PPM, the good Lord knows your hearts are pure and do not cave to the environmental crazies. Do what you know will ensure a prosperous future for CAYMANIANS.




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    • King tut says:

      7:06om; it’s people like you that are the blind being led by the blind. I.E. “one eye man is king in blind man country!”

      You are beyond ignorant if you believe the PPM give a hoot about Caymanians!

      Tell me, and do enlighten the general public with your wisdom as to how building a million dollar port facility is ensuring a “prosperous” future for Caymanians??

      If they want to ensure a prosperous future for Caymanians they better start educating them!!! That’s’ where a bright future begins!

      Build a trade school!

      Deal with the dump!

      Re-locate and renovate the Owen Roberts Airport!




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      • Anonymous says:

        In a nutshell since you’re asking, the ‘million dollar port facility’ will keep Cayman on cruise schedules, which will give the people that depend on a steady flow of cruise passengers, more chance to keep their jobs.

        Caymanians in jobs spend most of their money right here, where it circulates in the local economy. The more money circulating in the local economy, the more everybody benefits – Caymanians and non-Caymanians alike.

        Yes, I take your point about education but what do you suggest? Shut the Country down or put everything on hold till a trade school is built and the dump is dealt with?

        And as for ‘Re-locate and renovate the Owen Roberts Airport!’ Make up your mind! Do you want it relocated (i.e. a new airport facility built somewhere else since you can’t just pick it up and move it) OR do you want it renovated (i.e. as in renovate the existing facility?) which is what is being done.

        Oh! And for your information, UCCI already offers a number of course in a range of ‘trades’ and the hospitality school handles courses specific to tourism and hospitality. Neither are in purpose built ‘trade’ schools, but at least they are providing the necessary qualifications and training.

        Perhaps it’s you that needs educating?




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      • Endthefoolishness says:

        Couldn’t agree more with king tut, PPM needs to start caring about the people who LIVE here more than those who come here for one day or one week. Leave Cayman as it is -different than ANY other island out there, or make continue to make us a place worth skipping because it’s just like everywhere else.
        Stop caving to international influences. Do what suits CAYMAN.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    Exactly, PPM saved the cruise tourism industry. Now they are trying to pave a way forward for a brighter future for Caymanians. Even if that means a few expat environmental crazies don’t agree.




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  15. Anonymous says:

    Let us not forget that when Kirkconnell destroys George Town and our eco system including Seven Mile Beach, he has the Braaac to return home to. A Grand Cayman MLA should have been put in charge of the decision making for such a project rather than an MLA who is so conflicted with obvious family interests.




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    • Anonymous says:

      He not only has the Brac, he doesn’t have to say in the Cayman Islands at all. His wife is an American. I don’t know if he gave up his US citizenship I.




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      • Anonymous says:

        What’s your point? The British passport we’re entitled to gives us all the right to live and work in the UK, as well as the rest of Europe.

        None of us (Caymanians) have to stay if we don’t want to.




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    • Anonymous says:

      ‘A Grand Cayman MLA should have been put in charge of the decision making for such a project rather than an MLA who is so conflicted with obvious family interests.’

      Really? Didn’t we have Mac in charge of the decision making? He wasn’t from GT but he was Premier for ALL the Cayman Islands. Where did that get us? Oh yes, a
      $3 Million pay out to GLF and a dodgy deal with the Chinese.

      If MLA’s stopped making decisions because family members would benefit, we’d all be worse off. Think about it, if gas prices couldn’t reduce because Ozzie has a gas station, we’d all be paying more at the pumps. If Government didn’t reduce CUC’s fuel tax because Arden has shares, we’d all be paying more.

      On an Island this size there are bound to be family members that benefit. As long as decisions are not taken ONLY to benefit family members, I for one don’t have a problem with it.




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  16. Anonymous says:

    So sad Kirkbots think the amount of thumbs up or thumbs down is scientific polling. ROFLOL

    Try the cache refresh at KFP every ten minutes to manipulate more ?? or ??




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    • Anonymous says:

      You crying everyone as kirkbots are really silly. Most of Cayman voyed either PPM or UDP and both had the port in their plans. That means most of cayman support except for you poopbots.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    The negativity here in the comments, including the CNS agenda to destroy Government’s initiatives to build infrastructure and develop this country, is both sad and disheartening to read these articles and comments which clearly explains how Cayman being the most affluent, wealthy and progressive country in the Caribbean in some areas and yet our infrastructure is so archaic and so far behind many other countries in the Caribbean that we have become a joke. This port development infrastructure should have been developed 25-30 years ago and it is sad and just plain embarrassing to think that Cayman has the worst and most under developed port infrastructure in the entire Caribbean except for Turks & Caicos and Montserrat. Cayman’s cruise tourism supports 3,500 jobs and will support a PWC projected further 1000 new jobs with the development of the Cruise Berthing Facility. Our cargo port is the “life line” of our country and our sheer existence, yet we only have a single berth for container cargo ships and there are people amongst us that are hell bent on the obstruction of Government building this critically important infrastructure. It is time to be positive and support the most transparent Government we have ever had comprising of the most educated and most qualified politicians the country has ever had in history. Do we really want to return to the leadership and politicians of the previous Government, yet when they proposed the CBF in the centre of the harbor removing all the coral reef in the centre of the harbour, no-one spoke up and no-one said a thing about it including the DOE who want to prevent the CBF being developed now. Negative people are destructive people who achieve nothing except spreading their negativity through a society like a cancer in the community.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Bro, the cancer that’s spreading through this community is coming from the dump, not landfill or negative comments here on cns. There won’t be a beautiful island if you continue to ignore the largest hazard while destroying it’s beauty.




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    • Anonymous says:

      All for money. What a joke




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    • Anonymous says:

      The only embarrassment Cayman has is that dump mountain. Where is it the norm to eat where you $#!@? Only third world countries that have an incompetent government.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    You have no right to destroy the coral reef. You have every right to sort the dump out.




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  19. GT voter says:

    Does Moses K bother to read anything before making a decision?

    https://cnsbusiness.com/2016/06/01/over-development-undermining-tourism/

    Alden and Marco are so arrogant and blinded by ambitions they are staking their political futures in GT on this project. They forget Moses K will get elected until he gives up in politics or dies in Cayman Brac they do not enjoy such a luxury in GT.




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    • Anonymous says:

      My family all live and vote in GT and we elected these guys last time because they promised to build the dock. It is critical to keeping and creating jobs over the next couple of decades. I sure hope they come through on their commitment to build it.




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      • Ella says:

        Sooooo; everyone will work at this proposed dock? You make it sound like this dock is going to save the day!

        You voted for these people based on one initiative?

        That says a lot about you….




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        • Anonymous says:

          No, everyone will not work at the dock. But having it will bring more people, which will strengthen the economy, which will bring more investors and entrepreneurs, who will open more attractions and restaurants…. see how it all fits together?




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          • Diogenes says:

            Entrepreuners and investors are coming because there is a dock catering for day trippers?




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            • Anonymous says:

              Yes! Even day trippers want something to do, see, eat, while on Island. Entrepreneurs can see the opportunity and either invest themselves in their business ideas, or partner with other investors. Even small scale investment is still investment – it doesn’t have to be on the scale of DART to count.




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    • Wilfred says:

      Yea but I want see how he going
      pull Johnathon outta this!




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  20. Anonymous says:

    Kirkbots ready for attack!




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  21. Anonymous says:

    If this was Mac the dock would’ve been built by the highest bidder and a whole new world would have been built either out of the water covering all the dive sites with fill or dug out the whole North Sound destroying one of the best water sports areas and nature reserves on the island.

    At least this you know what is going on and the government is doing it for the people not for just one developer or the highest bidding Chinese investor.

    Cayman needs this for our capital, you can throw away any idea of revitalizing GT unless we get this secured. Keep rolling PPM.




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  22. Anonymous says:

    A Kirkconnell supporting the cruise dock… There’s a shocker!




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    • Anonymous says:

      little do you know, part of the reason Cayman is as prosperous as it is, is due to forward thinking by the original big family names in Cayman, including the likes of the Boddens, Merrens, Ebanks and Kirkconnells and others.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Dig a little and see why Mac was supporting a dock under his watch.




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  23. Anonymous says:

    yawn…..i’ve been listening to soon-come updates on this nonsense for the last 8 years…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    bottom line is that cayman can’t afford it.
    Move on and develop cayman as a leading high-end exclusive cruise destination based on modern and efficent tendering….
    We were told 8 years ago if we did not build the piers, ships would stop coming…..
    but 2016 has been a record year for cruise vistors????




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    • Anonymous says:

      They did stop coming, go look back a couple years ago. They only came back when the deputy premier went and begged saying that Cayman is interested in cruise tourism and will build the dock. They brought ships back to show commitment.




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      • be a leader not a follower says:

        They came back because people started traveling again.

        And with all those record number of cruise ship visitors arriving now how come downtown businesses are failing all ver the place?

        Things change, we better think about what we offer rather than relying on an old and out of date business model.




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  24. Anonymous says:

    how can engineers cost this?…this is the job for a firm of independent quantity surveyors




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  25. Anonymous says:

    Glad to hear they are pressing forward. The only one pushing against this either have a conflicting monopoly to bring passengers ashore or overseas divers and economic crazy groups that oppose all development.




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    • Forelock says:

      I have yet to find a single long term resident, that is not connected to the downtown “duty free” trade, who supports this project.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Funny you say that, because the cruise industry supports over a third of our economy directly, and higher indirectly. So I believe it would be tough to find someone that the dock does not support in one way or the other. Stop looking at the surface and think about the whole picture.




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        • Diogenes says:

          Strangely enough your figures do not equate with the official ones. Tourism as a whole maybe a third – cruise industries share of that debatable?




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      • Anonymous says:

        ME! I support it 100%




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  26. Anonymous says:

    If we don’t get that dock built you can kiss george town goodbye. Just look at Dart buying up land all over little cayman. He will soon own all three and move the cruise dock whereever he wants.

    Try so get this done quickly for our Caymanian people.




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  27. Anonymous says:

    We are really glad to see the government moving ahead with the dock. Cayman needs it so we can keep our jobs. Thank you!!




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