Final port bids in, ministry reveals

| 30/05/2019 | 75 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cruise ships in the George Town Harbour

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism has said that the final stage of the procurement process for the cruise berthing facility in George Town is now underway, as the deadline for the companies fighting for the job to submit their final bid is Friday. A press release Thursday stated that once these final bids are evaluated, a report outlining the preferred bidder will be generated. After that, a winner will be announced. It is not clear how long that will take but the news comes just as the petition calling for a referendum on the issue has reached the required number of voters and campaigners urged government not to sign any deals until the people have had their say.

It is clear from the government release, which made no reference at all to the petition from more than 5,300 Caymanians (25% of the electorate), that it is not factoring the referendum into the process at all.

Instead, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said it was “exciting that the procurement process has reached its conclusion”.

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The minister, one of just seven members of Cabinet who have decided that this project will go ahead regardless, said that the public would “soon be able to see the winning design and more information regarding the cost and exact positioning of the piers”.

He added that he had frequently stated that it was necessary to arrive at this final stage in the process in order to have final designs in hand. “Having reached this point, I look forward to publicly unveiling the plans as soon as the successful bidder has been identified,” the minister stated.

However, if the people’s referendum shows that a majority of registered voters do not support the project, the result is binding and regardless of how far government has gone with selecting its preferred bidder and negotiating a contract, it will have to stop the process. Nevertheless, Kirkconnell chose to ignore that issue and laid out the process government has followed over the last six years.

He said that during the latter stages, since the pre-qualified bidders were identified, those bidders submitted more detailed information about their ability to deliver on technical specifications before the more complex procurement process kicked off in November last year with a Request For Proposals (RFP).

The minister did not say which or how many bidders remain in the race for this lucrative contract but sources close to the process have suggested that only two are left: the controversial Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), and a local consortium led by McAlpine, known as Verdant Isle.

He did say, however, that the project remains a design-build-finance-manage (DBFM) option, despite the confusion over the part being played in financing the project by the cruise lines, four of which have now committed to the project.

“Internationally, DBFM has proven to be the best structure for this type of project and is by far the best financing model for our country because it means that no public funding will be required to build the cruise piers and enhanced cargo facility,” the minister said.

However, given the likely cost of the project, many people do not believe that public purse will not be burdened in some way or that higher port fees will result, which will affect high street prices.

But Kirkconnell insisted that the project will be financed by the cruise lines and the winning bidder, which will come from passenger fees that would otherwise have been used for ferrying passengers to and from the cruise ships and not from the public purse.

“The financial commitments provide the assurance that cruise lines will continue bringing passengers to our shores for the next 25 years and are a strong endorsement for the future of the Cayman Islands cruise industry,” the minister said. “Their long term commitment to the Cayman Islands will help to create more jobs and commercial opportunities, particularly for small businesses, and will inject millions of dollars into our economy.”

The figures about the proposed economic injections are widely disputed, as is the claim that the cruise lines will stop coming without piers. The idea that there will be dozens of huge vessels that will not tender sailing by has also been discredited by the current industry order book.

Concerns remain that government has failed to properly justify the project, which will kill dozens of small businesses, watersports operators and harbour front restaurants and bars. It is also seen as a threat not just to the marine habitat and famous wrecks in the George Town Harbour but to the country’s much more lucrative overnight tourism sector because local tourist attractions and infrastructure are already at capacity.

The project has increased in controversy in recent years with many believing that only a small but vocal minority of tour operators and downtown merchants are truly behind the proposal. The very first public consultation during the environmental assessment process found that the public was around 3-1 against, and since then most local straw polls have reflected a similar position.

See the minister’s statement and other cruise-related documents in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (75)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Where is the information coming from that China Harbour is one of the final bidders? Remember that we previously heard on two occasions that the contract to build the port had been signed and the contract is still not signed. Apparently “sources close to the project” are not very reliable when it comes to actual facts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Latest cruise ship incident – https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/venice-cruise-ship-crash-four-injured-as-msc-opera-liner-hits-dock-and-tourist-boat/ar-AAChy8Q?li=BBoPWjQ

    And that was apparently being docked with the aid of two tugs. Judging by the plans revealed so far it looks like they’ll be docking in GT under their own power. LOL, this is going to be fun!

    • Anonymous says:

      To 2.51pm You mean to tell me that they didn’t put at least one tug in the picture? Man that’s asking for trouble.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 2.51pm Are you saying that piers caused the cruise ship to crash in Venice. Just want to remind you that the cruise ship Rhapsody ran aground in George Town harbour in 1984 and piers were not involved.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good news

  4. Ron Ebanks says:

    I think that after I have seen all of the many businesses Mr Moses Kirkconnell has his hands into , he should be disqualified from having anything to do with anything that will benefit all those Companies he tied to . Because that would be corrupt and a conflict of interest big time . He is what you call a businessman , politician , lobbyist Minister, and anything else I missed .

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  5. Anonymous says:

    What a great idea! Bring in a corrupt Chinese company to build the pier. They have no bothersome laws like the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to worry about. Everyone can “participate”!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    How can anyone bid on something that has not been formally designed yet? What mitigation has been incorporated, what dredging avoided, what square footage of retail space incorporated, what coral heads protected, and what revenue streams promised?

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are either blind or not paying attention. All of these have been answered for the last 5 years

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      • Anonymous says:

        Nonsense. Why are passengers not moved ashore on a raised bridge, leaving coral etc. intact? Why is so much upland area for retail shops required? Where is the landscaping? What is happening to Harbour drive and traffic flows? Can any of the piers themselves be built ‘oil rig’ style on pylons, rather than solid concrete to the sea bed?

  7. satirony says:

    As far as I know, McAlpine have no experience with marine engineering and CHL have been blacklisted by the World Bank, as well as earning a poor environmental record. What’s going on here?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Watch them scramble and award it to CHEC so that when it is cancelled due to referendum they can pay CHEC a penalty which will be same or more than CHEC previously paid to get the contract…and of course they can blame the CPR folk.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    greed killing cayman and humanity!!!

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  10. Ron Ebanks says:

    Them damn Kirkbots hard at work again ..

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Howell was very clear at the CPR meeting last night that the petition technically and legally does not exist until the elections office can verify that the signatures are actual voters and that they still want their signature on the petition.

    CPR trying to say that the referendum has been trigger and that the voters are self verified is not presumptuous, it is extremely premature.

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    • Anonymous says:

      S T O P spitting venom.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense! The referendum is legally supported by the Constitution and with +25% of the electorate verified by CPR against the electoral register wanting a referendum, the coalition government would be looking at political suicide if they fought their own constituents on the matter.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Having signed the petition I can confirm I was put through as much scrutiny as the elections office put me through when I registered to vote. If my treatment is anything to go by, we should cut out further delays and expense and get on with the referendum. Government should simply acknowledge that a significant part of the population wants a say, and let us have it.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @4.25am I take it then that you would be happy with your bank accepting a cheque drawn on your account without.verifying that it is your signature; why? because the person who is presenting the cheque says it is your signature.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Crap analogy. We are talking the wishes of a large section of the electorate being ignored. 23.7% and 25.1% are not that different from that perspective. A referendum does not need to be constitutionally required. Government could hear the groundswell and allow the people to have a say.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Cabinet is punch-drunk on power. They can’t help themselves. Legal intervention is the only way to arrest what is happening and bring these high-fliers down to Earth.

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  13. Why does our current government want to do business with CHEC?? says:

    China Harbour Engineering Company (“CHEC”) has been blacklisted by Bangladesh amid allegations of bribing public officials.
    https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/no-job-china-harbour-future-1520917?browserpush=true

    CHEC stands accused of bribing public officials in Uganda.
    https://www.independent.co.ug/railway-officials-take-750bn-in-bribes/

    China Communications Construction (“CCC”, a subsidiary of CHEC) stands accused of corruption by the World Bank and has been previously blacklisted by the World Bank.
    https://www.scmp.com/article/987663/world-bank-accuses-11-firms-corruption

    CCC stands accused of bribing government officials in Malta to win bids to build bridges.

    CCC stands accused of bribing government officials in Kenya to win bids to build railrods.

    http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2014-07-21/news/blacklisted-chinese-bridge-building-company-has-history-of-backhander-deals-5915475969/

    Why has our current government even agreed to allow CHEC to bid on Cayman’s port project? Has our current government conducted ANY due diligence on this bidder? Cayman is a major financial jurisdiction subject to stringent statutory requirements in relation to conducting due diligence and “Knowing Your Client”. If a private sector financial institution were to take on CHEC or CCC as a client, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority would most likely consider this a Very Serious Breach of its Regulations, impose fines and other enforcement actions and may even revoke that institutions license.

    Why does our current government want to do business with CHEC??

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  14. Ron Ebanks says:

    People wake up and see that these politicians has NO RESPECT FOR YOU AND ENVIRONMENT AND ISLANDS .
    If they did they would show it , and I don’t see up today .

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  15. Anonymous says:

    caymanian’ssss….you keep voting in the same people…whats wrong with you all…???? one of definition of madness.. doing same tging over and over andvexpecting different results???

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  16. Cayman Mon says:

    Our forefathers had the smarts, foresight and intellect to build the infrastructure of the Islands, which, have largely taken us this far. This matter has spanned three or four different Administrations and if it was built way back then, it would have cost a fraction of what it would cost now. The time for talking is way past; its now time for action! BUILD THE PORT NOW.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The idea was always predicated on the assumption that “the future huge ships wouldn’t come or can’t tender”…in 2019, apart from one ship, they still don’t even exist in our theatre, and aren’t on the future order book for our waters.

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      • Ron Ebanks says:

        @ 8:33am very good point , and hadn’t they been using that line from Mac days
        we got to build the pier so we can get mega ships , that is still not on order to be made . That’s like building a house and no one to live in it .

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      • Anonymous says:

        8:33 am where do you get such misinformation from? Did you hear that from CPR Cayman, or where?

        For your information in 2019:
        Four (4! not just 1!) “huge” Royal Caribbean ships already “exist in our theatre”!
        Oasis of the Seas – Western Caribbean cruises are on her schedule (returning Dec.2019).
        Symphony of the Seas – Western Caribbean cruises are on her schedule.
        Allure of the Seas – Western Caribbean cruises are on her schedule.
        Harmony of the Seas – Western Caribbean cruises are on her schedule.
        (Plus there are two more “Oasis” class ships on the order books for Royal Caribbean – it’s not yet confirmed where they will be sailing.)

        Plus several other large ships on the order books:
        At least 9 “LNG” class ships for Carnival Corp’s various cruise lines – do you really believe none of those will be coming to the Western Caribbean?
        And what about at least 4 “LNG” class ships for MSC – do you also really believe none of those will be coming to the Western Caribbean?

        I’m sure glad we have a government that has the good sense to base their plans on verifiable facts about the future of the cruise industry, rather than relying on your obviously seriously flawed sources!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ignoring a democratic voter-led petition is a form of totalitarianism that would make our forefathers roll in their graves.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Best and most important comment ever. To ignore the PIR, is to negate the very principles the Caymanian people lived by, prior to enacting the Constitution. Many of our forefathers were hard nosed, and they had their faults, but being ambivalent about the will of the people was not one of them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Our forefathers would not have wasted millions of dollars on a referendum. They would’ve had the port built long ago. They cared more about jobs and feeding their families than a little bit of coral.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This generation having four Father’s is the root cause of all our problems.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Cayman Mom
      You and everyone should see that IF this pier is built Cruise Lines will pay for it , which means that the CI Government WILL NOT GET THE HEAD TAX FOR 25 to 30 YEARS, BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE THE WAY THAT THE CRUISE LINES WILL BE PAYED
      BACK PLUS INTEREST .
      What you will have a the end of 30 years is a wore out dock and ruined Tourism and underwater environment and empty bank account, .

      Tell Moses to work on the stay over Tourism and stop his arrogance.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    So still nothing on who the made into the finals, why do they not give any information on this process?

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  18. Anonymous says:

    It is an absolute disgrace Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell does not respect our democratic rights which is the reason he was elected to reperesent the majority in the first place. This also goes for Aldart and his cronies. What an absolute disgusting bunch of a politicians. Moses, Aldart, Bush.. all of them make Jared Kushner and orange Daddy look like saints.

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  19. Things that make you go mmmm says:

    So the anti-corruption law has been sidelined and this is being pushed through before the referendum. Things that make you go mmmm.

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  20. satirony says:

    Why are we even talking to China Harbour when they’ve been blacklisted by the World Bank and have a terrible environmental record?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because part of the reason they were blacklisted was proven allegations of “bribery to public officials” to get their hands on the projects. Let that sink in for a moment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      don’t leave out the fact that the current government demonize the previous one for even talking to CHEC about this project

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    • Anonymous says:

      8% apparently.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow these scum are going to try and push the agreement through before referendum…slimy bunch of Caymanians you got there folks.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    10 years later and we still know nothing….
    wonderland stuff…

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  23. Anonymous says:

    FIX THE DUMP!

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Ha – all you trouble makers have it now, CHEC and Dart all the way. Our strong leaders know what to do and will throw the stupid petition where in belongs – in the trash. Praise to the Unity Team

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  25. Joe B says:

    The people don’t trust their own government. The Government doesn’t trust the voters. All for good reasons. That is why lots of money gets spent and nothing of merit gets done. Caymanians don’t want progress that they themselves can not keep up with and government can not survive itself without new money coming in. Who will win? Not Caymanians. Who will lose? Future and present Caymanians. Government will still be getting paid and expats as usual lose nothing and gains nothing. Life goes on. Caymanians who want only to go back to the past will find that life has past them by with no hope of catching up. The future will belong to those who step up.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    DBFM means that all goods that will arrive in Cayman will need to pay a fee to a new private master, and gov’t will run that through the most irresponsible ministry there is. To build a port we don’t need, and provide berthing for ships that don’t exist.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    You cannot have a referendum until the public can see what is proposed.Well I guess you can but we will not know what we are voting for or against. Unless you are just against cruise tourism.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You mean our happily-tendering record cruise tourism? Why doesn’t it matter to you that there aren’t even 4 of these ships?

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      • dxp says:

        Would you build a car to travel on a road when the roads are yet to be built?

        Would you build a house on a lot with no road access?

        Look at the bigger picture.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Tek that.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    “oh ffs.. ok let’s delay and waste money. F#$@ ME!!. Ok. Calm down. Let’s do it for the people”

    *shows public the facts*

    *free public holiday*

    *port still get built*

    “i hate mondays”

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    • Anonymous says:

      5:33 pm, you say free holiday, don’t you understand holidays help make the cost of living go up, who do you think pays the doube time for workers that work on holidays or the workers that stay home and still get paid, think, please think my friend.Thank you.

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