Cruise project progresses in secrecy

| 16/04/2018 | 116 Comments
Cayman Islands cruise, Cayman News Service

Tourists visit George Town on cruise ship tenders

(CNS): The government is maintaining a veil of secrecy around the progress of the cruise berthing project, despite being very close to declaring a preferred bidder. Despite the massive public interest in what will be the biggest ever infrastructure project in Cayman Islands’ history, the tendering process has been far from transparent. CNS has learned that since pre-qualifying nine bidders, the ministry has narrowed down the potential bidders to just three and is favouring a local consortium headed by a well-known general contractor who is partnering with two cruise lines and a marine engineer.

CNS has submitted questions to the ministry and the new Central Procurement Office about the process but has received no response from either entity to any questions, even though the project has moved forward over the last few weeks.

Although the PPM government throughout the last administration had insisted the project would be transparent, the details of the pre-qualification period, the bidders that were invited to submit what has been described as “outline solutions”, and the more recent re-assessment to narrow the field to only three potential bidders have not been posted on the new procurement website. It is understood, however, that China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which was one of the nine pre-qualified bidders, has been eliminated.

Sources have told CNS that government is very close to announcing the consortium that it favours to begin the controversial project, although the public still has no idea about the costs and design or any of the parameters of the project. The government has continued to pursue the goal to build piers in George Town Harbour regardless of opposition to the project. The significant environmental damage, the undefined costs to the public purse, the impact on existing infrastructure and attractions have led to opposition from across the community, including the tourism sector.

During the original public consultation those who took part in the survey came down three to one against the project but government has consistently ignored that result.

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, who is the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has stated that “government seems hell-bent on this project” but it is refusing to give any details and is misleading the public about the need for the costly development.

“The public should have some idea of what we are getting,” Miller told CNS, as he questioned why there is so much secrecy. He said the opposition had made three verbal requests and two written requests for a presentation on the issue but he said there has been no responses to those requests.

He added that in addition to the secrecy of the process, he understood that the Port Authority had also been marginalised and was not involved as it should be in accordance with the law.

Miller said government needed to be investing in education and the criminal justice system instead of the cruise port because it was unnecessary. He also questioned the government’s justification for the project given recent news from the cruise industry that the next generation of mega-cruise ships can and are tendering.

“Government is deliberately misinforming the public,” Miller said, as he urged it to reconsider its priorities.

Kenneth Bryan, the independent MLA for George Town Central, the constituency where the development will take place, also noted the lack of transparency. Speaking to CNS, he stated that he, too, believes the public should be told what is going on.

Raising his concerns that the costs and potential environmental damage are causing the government to move the project forward behind closed doors, he said the silence was an indication that there “was obviously something to hide” because government appears to be choosing to avoid the process.

“There are far too many rumours circulating about what is or is not happening. The people in my constituency and nationally need to know what is going on,” he said.

The recent introduction of a Procurement Law and an office to oversee major capital projects has emerged out of a long history of questions surrounding major public development projects in Cayman and allegations of mismanagement and the appearance, if not the reality, of corruption. But as government makes plans to embark on the biggest public project to date, at a time when there are more checks and balances written into the system, the process is still shrouded in secrecy.

Auditor General Sue Winspear told CNS that her office’s role is generally after the fact but she stated that the Office of the Auditor General would be following up on the implementation of recommendations laid out in the major capital projects report which was published last year. (See the report in the CNS Public Library)

While the OAG, which is an independent entity, cannot get involved in the decision-making about projects, she said the office is interested in more “real time” auditing to steer projects back on track if they are in danger of going awry. However, she said that at this point the Central Tenders Committee should be engaged in the port process and she would be checking to ensure it is.

Grand Cayman is currently enjoying some of its best-ever cruise numbers. While this is in part due to the impact of the 2017 hurricane season on several rival destinations, it has also provided an opportunity for the authorities to see the impact of huge passenger arrivals in one day on the existing infrastructure and attractions.

Many people in the tourism sector have highlighted the fact that the limited public beach areas and unique attractions, such as Stingray City, are already cracking under the strain and are close to their capacity for cruise visitor numbers.

See documents relating to the cruise dock project in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (116)

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  1. Cayman Proud says:

    If Mr. Kirkconnell and Mr. Hamaty want the dock so badly then they should pay for it. After all they are the main supporters of it being built and will be the ones reaping benefits (if any).

    They have claimed that one of the reasons our Government should undertake this expensive and superfluous project is the concern for the well being of their employees. However I doubt these same employees will receive any pay increases should thier employers recognize profits once the dock has been built.

    • Jah Dread says:

      Wow so many fingers on this post, all crying one side or the other. I don’t understand, ona believe Governments in any part of the WorlD are elected to tell you every time they go to the toilet nah. Or you be.ieve that they don’t know that if they screw up that the people can put them in jail. Ona just be patient and wait for the announcement from ya bombo cleat leaders nah, and in the meantime go find some work to do If ya don’t have a job camp out at the CIG government buiduing


  2. Anonymous says:

    I have a GT business, and I do not want this new dock. This is not the customer that spends money. Make GT more accessible. Offer a shuttle from the hotels to town. Fix Spotts dock up, so it is not an embarrassment. Add pedestrian walkways, and cross walks so our visitors can safely enjoy town.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is one person who believes himself to be above all others that is at the root of this. He believes his own people are all too daft to understand the implications of, frankly, anything. He is very pompous and very wrong. This is our country and we deserve transparency, a full accounting, and the truth.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why does this government strive to put our island in so much debt!? Do they not know that the borrower is slave to the lender?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This needs to go a referendum.

    Let’s see the confirmation from Cruise Lines that they’ll stop calling in Cayman unless we build a few piers (they won’t, the passengers demand Cayman)

    Let’s really see the average $ spend per passenger – its all made up. the only way to truly know is to ask Kirk/Dart/Tortuga/etc for their Gross Sales and extrapolate.

    Where is the infrastructure to cope with more passengers for longer? More importantly, where are they going? Already, with the Dart purchase of large swathes of Cayman and smaller developers locking up prime lands, we’re out of beach….the net result is cruise passengers (and ourselves) being forced to move infront of condo developments and hotel resorts where they systematically tell them/us to leave

    How about some transparency? How about someone in CIG having the cojones to stand up and say enough with the madness…let’s redirect the funds to education/training/jobs/maybe a new prison/old persons health care/…..the dump!

    the port is a WANT, not a NEED…….NEEDS must, WANTS bust.

  6. Anonymous says:

    secrecy …just like lodge!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ok so we do build it and the huge ships come. 6000 tourists per boat pour out onto waterfront… Then what?

    • The truth shall set you free says:

      Kirk Freeport and Tortuga owners celebrate………

      • Anonymous says:

        While the rest of us are stuck in traffic trying to get to work until 10am.

        • Fred the Piemaker says:

          And you cant sit on the beach without someone trying to tell you you need to rent a lounger.

    • West Bay Premier says:

      This atempt of the Government to go ahead and build this cruise ship pier that some people say that the majority of the people are against , which I believe .
      Come on people get your money together and go to a neutral Lawyer that understand this issue and not a friend of these Politicians that are for building this pier , and have him/her draw up a petition, and get thousands of Caymanians signatures on it , and all signatory go and hand it in to the Governor .

      I think that we need to show these Politicians that we are not scared of them , and they aren’t going to do everything they want to . And don’t stop there , when the next election come VOTE THEM ALL OUT .

      WE don’t need that pier that will destroy the environment and benefit a few people .

      • Anonymous says:

        You are so very wrong as this pier is desperately needed to keep our cruise ships coming in. Our Unity team knows what is best and everyone needs to stop harassing them at every turn. Mr. Dart’s team will build a great project for us, just look at the wonderfully built Camana Bay. They also have the experience and knowledge to keep the project on budget and on time. Let us all get behind our government and support them instead of being so negative.

        • West Bay Premier says:

          You need to screw your head on the right way , if you believe what you wrote in that comment .

        • Anonymous says:

          Stop singing that blood-clot tune! 9:53 am

          This is pure propaganda to make people believe that we need this pier. What a load of BS!

          Stop lying to yourself, your family, your friends, your colleagues.

          You must be one of the very few who would stand to benefit from this ridiculous project!

          Please let me know if building the pier will end any of the following issues plaguing Cayman:

          1. Crime
          2. Unemployment
          3. Immigration fiasco
          4. Cinico debt & health care fiasco
          5. Public Education reform
          6. Cost of living

          Let’s talk about how we can split $300 Million on the above 6 issues and then we can talk about “the pier”!

        • Frank Honesty says:

          Anonymous 9:53, are you an idiot or just another troll? By the way, if you think we have anything like a “Unity Team” you need a dose of Exlax!

        • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        where do I sign please?

    • West Bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 7:28 pm , tell us how you personally would benefit from all those passengers if you are not a Kirkbot .

    • Anonymous says:

      More like 10,000 = Complete Chaos !

  8. Anonymous says:

    The vast majority of Caymans population is against this audacious attempt to build piers that are CLEARLY NOT for the benefit of the Caymanian people.
    WE need a Robert Mueller to FOLLOW THE MONEY and reveal what is really going on here.
    Non-Caymanian bots should register your lack of support below.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yet, not a single voter has petitioned the governor to intervene on this or any other topic. Apathy gets what it deserves.

    • Anonymous says:

      So who is going to do it? I see on fb a lot of active caymanian voices, maybe one of them should start the process?!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dear Guvnor

    You asked us what we want. We would like this entire fiasco stopped and investigated before it becomes a matter of national security. We have no voice without you.

    Yours respectfully

  11. Anonymous says:

    A group of leading citizens ought to partnership with the Opposition and legally oppose the Cruise Ship Berthing Facility.
    If nothing else a referendum on the pier needs to be forced upon this reckless government.
    This still is a democracy?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s government really has some nerve to be secretly plowing ahead with a project that not only has very little support from the majority of the population, but also carries the potential to sink the country into an economic blackhole.

    It is utterly disgusting.

    At a minimum, projects of this size, risk, expense, and sensitivity should be put to a national referendum.

    In fact, if I was an elected leader I would insist on it.
    Only a dangerously inflated ego would disagree.

    – Whodatis

    *It is clear our government members are reluctant to state their position on whether they believe we should build the CBF or not, therefore, we ought to switch the question to whether they believe the decision should go to a referendum.

    That will immediately let me know who deserves to be a trusted elected official and who does not.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I heard the just fired the project manager they brought in from Texas..Any news on that? Who is in charge now?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who cares! How is the dump project coming?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm. how is the dump project?

      Okay, here’s a thought, let us envisage a pier where 20,000 people can disembark at once. But before they do, they get a good look at our dump! Great ratings to be had there I’m sure.

      I am not worried about the dump anymore after hearing DART got the deal on it. He will fix the mess soon, it is on us all to recycle, reuse etc. going forward.

      DART will clean it up nicely, he’s invested in the general area and would only stand to lose money if it isn’t fixed, and soon.

      Believe me, this pier is bad news for us all. Some of us have enough insight to see ahead and realize it’s only a temporary minor fix to some real major problems and at a cost that not even Trump could justify!

  15. Anonymous says:

    And another $3million plus wasted on a boardwalk that the next storm will tear up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another place to take cruise shippers, better than taking them to the West Bay boat ramp.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How about funding education and increasing teachers salaries?

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the worst ideas JuJu ever had. More so even than attending Postal conferences in Timbuktu.
      Rewarding incompetence doesn’t make it go away.

  17. Anonymous says:

    With respect, the public haven’t been convinced there is a public business case to proceed, nor has the much revised deepwater plan gone thru EIA or hydro studies (that we can see). Skipping those necessary steps again (as if they don’t matter) and advancing to the selection of bidders is a least premature, and quite possibly corrupt. Must the public file an injunction to check the eagerness of our politicians? The PPM election manifestos were not confirmed at the ballot box last May. It’s only through backstabbing and horse-trading that they managed to get back to the levers at all. Governor pls Help!

  18. Hold The Front Page says:

    Anyone going out on a limb and calling “a local consortium headed by a well-known general contractor who is partnering with two cruise lines and a marine engineer” as DECCO?

    • Anonymous says:

      Amazingly, no…… not what I have been told… Check around Dorcy Drive

    • Anonymous says:

      2:49 This reference to, ‘partnering with two cruise lines,’ is rather curious.

      Two things are very clear from the way the major cruise lines operate. The first is that their idea of a partnership boils down to, ‘We’re in charge and don’t you forget it!’ The second is that if they put money into a project they want exclusive access to it – no sharing with their competitors. In other words this claim looks a bit iffy.

      That leaves us with some disturbing possibilities. One is simply that these are two of the lesser operators, in which case you’ve got to question the viability of the bid. But another is that the bidder is simply claiming to be working in partnership with the cruise lines to get their feet under the table – that wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened on these islands.

  19. Anonymous says:

    George town is gonna smell like sun tan lotion

  20. Anonymous says:

    Please take the time and read the following article by Doug Lansky, an award winning travel writer:

    The conclusions are worrying for the future of the Cayman tourist industry, some of which are:
    1/ Cruise ship passengers rarely visit the same destination twice, whereas overnight visitors do.
    2/ The average spend per passenger that is often quoted is a figure provided by the Cruise industry itself based on passenger surveys at the end of a cruise which are open to exaggeration.
    3/ A lot of the shore excursions are booked on the Cruise ship itself thereby ensuring that they get their percentage as well.
    4/ The biggest money generator are the Port fees which go directly to the Government not to the local vendor.
    5/ Many of the businesses which have Cruise line recommended signs have to pay a yearly fee for that privilege.

    I could go on, but I think you get the point – curiously cannot understand why the Government don’t.

  21. Flying Noodles says:

    I am willing to bet that Harbour Drive will be renamed China Town palace by 2019 any takers??? aaaah boy Mckeewa legacy is killing this little island and setting our sisters. The port management will soon have more than discrepancies to worry bout but its an ideal ruse to remove them from office.Clever move PPM!

    • Anonymous says:

      This one is all about Alden and Mose. It’s too easy to blame Big Mac when the Progressives are driving the ship primarily to aid family and friends. ACC anybody paying attention?

  22. A. Caymanian says:

    Dear Government of National Unity Members

    Please enlighten the public and provide clarity on the following questions…

    CNS: The rest of this comment has been published here.

  23. Bracker says:

    Moses is the Cayman Brac version of McKeeva both got the same M.O.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is going to not only cost the PPM the next election, there is going to be a lot of only 1 term members. Serves them right, YES men and women.

    • Anonymous says:

      If Moses is not in control, he is not interested.

  24. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    You cannot make this stuff up they lack respect

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

  25. Anonymous says:

    the port will never happen.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Just let Dart do it and be done with it. It will be done right. Government will surely find a way to make this a train wreck otherwise.

  27. Anonymous says:

    You want to do it right or you want to get it done? You can’t have both here for obvious reasons. They can’t even run a garbage collection business. If they were twice as smart as there are now they would at least realize this and quit trying. If they were three times as smart they would realize that there are many companies that can do what they want if they just let them. But they are not.

    • Anonymous says:

      This government has a history of poor decision making and this is another example of their complete incompetence. We don’t need a damn dock, we need level headed individuals who are fit for the position to better Cayman. If anyone wants another example look no further than the massive dump pile that is a testament to caymanian politicians ignorance. Third world mentality and third world results. Time for a change. Forget the damn dock.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The Tourism Minister should have stepped down from this project as a conflict of interest.

    Based upon past large dollar projects and the problems associated with them how can we have confidence in this government and their secretive way of pushing this forward?

    A referendum needs to be held on the Cruise Ship Berthing Facility as the premises by which the dock was deemed mandatory no longer apply.

    This government operates in secret and that ought to concern all residents of the Cayman Islands.

    I am not sure if this government even has a dollar cost to this project. No to blank check government projects.

    • D. Truth says:

      Five good points, Mr. Anonymous 12:09. I cannot think of anything positive concerning this superdock fiasco nor the under-the-table actions of our “leaders”! Are the Cayman voters aware that there are some inept, unthinking leaders in our government? Can we vote them out in the next election??? I think we can. I think we WILL!

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course we will – but by then it will be too late to save us from this damnable dock. Heaven save us!

      • Anonymous says:

        Problem is for who? Currently we are doomed no matter which dinosaur gets in.

  29. SMH says:

    If this was a good idea and value the government would be proud to share the details with the people.

    The lack of transparency confirms that Cayman is going to get fleeced by Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines when this deal is signed by short sighted politicians who are incapable of thinking long term they worry about monuments, political legacy and getting re-elected. SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      Especially if the Chinese have anything to do with it. The same guy who helped the Chinese screw the Bahamian investors is trying to get involved with the Chinese bidders here.

    • Anonymous says:

      This cruise pier project is no different and is another project that the AG will be writing about expressing concerns. Typical Alden and PPM they never learn.

      • Anonymous says:

        What? Just because Clifton Hunter cost 3 times what it was supposed to cost ? come on give poor Alden a break, he is fragile

  30. Anonymous says:

    What about the overheads over those 30years of the loan from the cruise lines. Staffing, running and maintaining the facility won’t be cheap and on top of that there’ll be the interest on the money CIG will have to borrow to pay for the project.

    The other thing omitted from the calculations is the simple fact that nobody knows what the cruise lines are planning five years down the road let alone 30years. It would only take one major cruise line to decide Grand Cayman is no longer viable as a destination for the wheels to fall off this fantasy. Look at what they did in Falmouth, Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      That you fried is why this government is requiring that the Cruiselines pay for and maintain the facility.

      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        Which they will fund by reducing or eliminating the head tax they currently pay for landing passengers. Revenue forgone is the same as as cost. Tax payer foots the bill. Certain people do nicely off the increased footfall – and don’t care about the loss of the head tax since that doesn’t affect their pocket. Whereas other vested interests want to keep tendering. Hence the Kirkbots and the Tenderbots – but they both want higher volumes, the Minister of Tourism who should be guiding the overall tourism package, numbers and infrastructure to absorb it – be it airport, roads or beaches – is hopelessley conflicted, and the taxpayer is piggy in the middle who ends up footing the bill and putting up with all the consequent infrastructure pressure.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:02 are we sure the sun will rise tomorrow?

  31. Anonymous says:

    One really has to wonder when our Cabinet plans to enact the Standards in Public Life Law? What is that date so we can put it on our calendars and schedule a collective sigh of relief?!? Nobody wants to turn on the lights and squash these cockroaches.

  32. Anonymous says:

    If Harmony of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship around and cant come to Cayman because we don’t have a dock… then Why does she use tenders at the RCCL Private Island, Coco Cay in the Bahamas and not Cayman… probably because they don’t want to ruin their own little island…

  33. Anonymous says:

    Soon it will be time to take to the streets as it seems that CIG is just not listening to the people.

  34. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need it. All those politicians with ties to the stores in the waterfront are obviously pushing for the dock. A certain minister of tourism is in direct conflict of interest with this too.

    • Anonymous says:

      $360 million when all said and done going on past performance. We don’t even have enough beach access/facilities for the current visitors anymore let alone a ballooning crime problem that will turn away many more visitors than any dock will bring. Get your current house/infrastructure in order before gallavanting 200yds offshore to sink money that would have better results elsewhere to improve and maintain the experience of visitors and bring them back again.

    • Anonymous says:

      True the Kirkconnells have a major interest in GT, but Moses is really honest. I think you are looking at the wrong MLA. Just my opinion.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The Auditor General needs to engage now before it’s too late and we are stuck with another ppm bad deal.

    • Anonymous says:

      And the Anti Corruption Commission…they don’t want us to know anything because they know it has very little public support. In my view, certain politicos maybe milking the cow one more time before they retire? Transparency now!!!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Time to vote out all the sellouts that support this bs!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Austin Harris do you remember your campaign promises and sermons prior to getting elected?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please, better check Austin to see if he still has his tongue. PPM must have taken it out. Not a sound from him these days.

    • Anonymous says:

      So disappointed in Austin, anyway, 4 years, you not staying a day more than 4

    • ICU says:

      Austin Harris is a PIP, in that he will go with the PARTY IN POWER, because for him that is what it is all about and it has little if anything to do with the good of the country or it’s people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Austin Whoris? LOL that you fools voted for him.

    • Anonymous says:

      He Cant hear you from his Ivory Tower, now that is a slick operator

      • Jotnar says:

        Slick? Doing what you are told without question is not slick – just makes you someone else’s bitch.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The public will be forced to ultimately pay for this project that benefits a select few GT businesses. It will be an environmental and financial disaster for the Caymans

  39. #CAYMANKIND says:

    This is transparency PPM style brought to you by the ‘honorable’ Moses K and Alden. There is no difference in substance from the UDP version of transparency back in the dark days McKeeva in 2012. Only the new Governor and FCO can stop this project as the government have no respect for the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Praying to the only one that can help us…our Heavenly Father. Sad days for the Cayman Islands.

  40. Anonymous says:

    To be fair too much transparency at this time could have negative impact on the Gov’ts position in negotiations with vendors.

    • Anonymous says:

      Business Case? Revised EIA? All obscured.

    • Jotnar says:

      Negative impact – like stopping them doing a deal that will bankrupt the country and the environment but is in a few individuals vested interests? Absolutely.

  41. Anonymous says:


  42. annonymous says:

    thanks for keeping the public informed,. Too bad election is so far away!

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS without your reporting on these projects we’d wake up one day and find out that the work has started. The arrogance of this government is shocking!

    • Anonymous says:

      With enough support the constitution provides an alternative.

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