Cargo distraction to cruise vote, says Miller

| 07/10/2019 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service
Verdant Isle cruise port plan layout

(CNS): Ezzard Miller, the MLA for North Side, has welcomed the referendum bill for the national vote on the cruise berthing project but said that adding the cargo issue to the question is a distraction because it was never cited on the petition. The former opposition leader told CNS that 19 December was not the best date for the referendum and he hoped it would not put voters off, though the biggest concern was the distraction of cargo in the question.

However, it is apparent already that government will be focusing on the cargo as a major part of its campaign to justify the entire project. The activists campaigning for the referendum and the related petition, which was signed by almost 6,000 people, never addressed the cargo element.

Miller said that this alone means that the cargo should not form part of the referendum. However, many questions remain over the justification for a cargo expansion, especially since the limited plans that have been released about the project appear to show a reduced footprint for the cargo dock.

“The cargo was not mentioned in the petition prayer or during the campaign,” he said, adding that he believed it was included as a distraction on the real issue of the cruise piers, which was becoming increasingly unpopular with the people.

Miller said that most of the experts he had spoken to had said that bringing larger container ships would not cut prices for any goods, as that had never happened anywhere. It was misleading to suggest that Cayman was in desperate need of more cargo room, Miller said, noting that ships were not queuing to get in.

He also raised his concerns that by expanding the cargo operations, Cayman would be paving the way for more and more imports at a time when it needed to begin to think much more seriously about producing more food locally and encouraging our own suppliers and entrepreneurs to create goods at home

“We need to use policy to drive change and influence producers and consumers,” he said. “Increasing import duties on things we can produce here will encourage Caymanians to grow more local produce and make more local goods.”

Miler said government has failed to justify the cargo expansion as there was no clear evidence of where the benefits would be.

He urged everyone to come out and vote ‘no’ on 19 December and noted that despite the high bar of 50% plus one of the entire electoral register voting ‘no’ to the project to make it binding, government would still find an overwhelming majority of turnout saying ‘no’ hard to completely ignore.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Port User says:

    Anyone who thinks the port in under-used should have been standing out there during the past few days. Yes there are times when there are no cargo ships alongside, but because of the idiotic restrictive practices the port management follows, several ships regularly come at the same time, and they are only allowed to discharge or load at night.
    Leaving aside liquid cargoes, which are handled at the Jackson Point sea-berth, there are six types of ship bringing cargo to the George Town port: 1. Conventional small container-carriers; 2. Ro_Ro ships; 3. Bulk carriers with gravel, sand or other agregate; 4. Bulk cement carriers; 5. Barges bringing agregate either from the Brac or discharged from a bulk carrier anchored off the port; 6. Barges carrying containers or trailers to and from the Brac and Little Cayman.
    The required port facilities for these are sadly lacking. There are two ro-ro slips, one having extremely restricted access from shore-side. When the other, main ro-ro berth is in use for its intended purpose the only remaining dock space is along the South side of the finger pier. When an agregate cargo is being discharged from there, the trucks have to cross in front of the ro-ro berth and get mixed up with the container and trailer handling.
    When a cement ship is on the ro-ro berth, (although it is not roll-on-roll-off that is the only berth it can use) and a container ship is on the South side of the finger pier, there is similar dangerous manoeuvering of dissimilar vehicles in the same restricted space.
    Two things are urgently needed: 1. Construct a second finger pier at the North end of the existing port compound, to be used for all agregate and cement handling; 2. Allow cargo handling during the day which will obviously be safer and cheaper and allow the port workers to live normal family lives.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Noting that the company Baird has been chosen to provide us with a “robust” Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). That said, in my mind, the firm has been hand picked by government to slant results in their favor and has now been chosen to do the second assessment as well…

    CPR members, I know you read the comments often – may i suggest that you get pricing for an independent company that has not been hand picked by government to perform the second EIA?

    I’m not sure about other readers, but i would be happy to donate funds to an independent EIA and would prefer that we have two companies weigh in on what they believe the impacts will be.

    – Maximus

  3. Deeply concerned says:

    I’m an expatriate and have lived here for 50 years. I truly appreciate the opportunities these islands have given me and my family. However I feel I must speak out on this issue to say I feel it is a retrograde step. This project will diminish our appeal as an upscale tourist destination and once we are flooded with largely down market cruise passengers we will find our stayover visitors and those that have invested heavily in condos on the West Bay beach will be leaving us for other more exclusive destinations.In my humble opinion we are selling out our future to line the pockets of a few whose pockets are already well lined, and we will all suffer for it down the road.

    • Deeply concerned too. says:

      “deeply concerned”, you want these islands to remain as you found them 50 years ago? No wonder you left your country and came here, you can’t stand progress.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow. That’s not what he said at all. Are you so obtuse, or just biased by a conflict of interest? If you don’t think that the new cruise piers won’t negatively impact the quality of Grand Cayman’s stay-over tourism product, in a time when stay-over tourism is increasing and there are at least five more major hotels coming, you’re an idiot.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of what anyone thinks of Ezzard he is correct that the introduction of the cargo port into the equation is the vile manipulation everyone knew the government was going to do in an attempt to tank the referendum. People please see through this manipulation and vote down the whole mess.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How can Mr. Miller say that bringing in 1 ship instead of 2 (with the same volume of cargo) will not reduce shipping costs?
    One bus to NS with twenty persons has less transport costs than 2 busses with 10 persons each, i.e. costs of fuel, driver, wear & tear, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, but who owns the liners – ie. who are you (naively) relying on to pass along their savings to you? Do you think ALT’s house was built on an empire of charity? There are two or three families that stand to gain GREATLY. One family is related to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism, and his cousin is head of the CI Port Authority. Hand selected developers with bottomless duty-waivers also stand to gain. Not you or me.

    • Anonymous says:

      So show the numbers. The big stores will still want fresh products (produce, etc) weekly and the non-perishables are just part of the shipment. At best the cost if corned. Beef may drop while cost of lettuce goes up. So it’s a wash.

      Similarly big items like fridges or cars. Unless you expect the retailers to take the risk of say 11 months cars or fridges in stock instead of 3 months sales, or whatever they keep now. That’s just going to raise the storage and insurance cost. Theres a reason Wallmart uses just in time delivery. Its cheaper than keeping too much stock on site.

      So show me the numbers how the cargo port plan is going to save me money?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care who says differently…somebody’s pockets are being lined here. Why else would the current administration switch stories so quickly and adamantly now that they see that more and more of the people that voted them in (the people they work FOR) don’t want this white elephant?

    • Anonymous says:

      At minimum, expect there to be some starry-eyed “aren’t we clever” discussions in private caucus and perhaps onwards with developers, about the divying-up of 170,000 cubic yards of dredge to be sold on as fill. Some, very likely, not realizing (or perhaps caring) that the Backhoe mechanical dredge from the Ritz offered more consolidated material for reuse than a hydraulic Cutter Section Dredge can produce. The water concentration of the CSD makes it almost unusable without costly re-consolidation refinement, and would be toxic to rebar. But, longtime observers will know, based on past observation, not to under-estimate the dreams of avarice that plague our recurring MLAs. It would be a shame to kill our island because the feather-nesting dreams of our MLAs didn’t square with the realities of CSD…. but I wouldn’t rule it out.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:32 I thought the referendum would determine that!

  7. JJ says:

    If we’re just going to pick apart the whole project and have issue with it piece by piece, why stop at fussing about the cargo facility? Let’s just make a list so the CNS has new article ideas we can banter about. Then, let’s just make a new petition for each little item.

    Obviously this is absurd, same as fussing about the cargo. Everybody knows the cargo port was always part of the proposal. A referendum question that doesn’t take the whole project into consideration is absurd. The complainers, I mean “campaigners” need to get over it.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no cargo expansion case – every report (including recent Baird report) describes a port operating well under-capacity for the foreseeable. Bringing in larger cargo ships won’t reduce freight costs. The only thing it will bring in are more drug, crime, and weapons headaches, by sharing established cartel cargo trade routes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the cargo facility was always part of the proposal, but the petition only sought to stop one part of the proposal – the cruise piers. I don’t often agree with Ezzard Miller on anything, but in this case, he has a valid point. The cargo facility should not have been part of the question.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Our economy depends on financial services which is constantly under pressure and pack up and leave in a few days and Ezard wants us to discard our cruise sector which we have spent all these years building?

    • Anonymous says:

      Financial services is 75% of the economy, 100% law/tax-compliant in 2019, and not under any credible threat. Whereas cruise tourism brings in more abuse, hassle, and corruption than actual CIG revenue (maybe $3mln a year in fees?) – which then drops to zero with a port deal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “He urged everyone to come out and vote ‘no’ on 19 December” I will be voting yes on the 19th of December.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Mr. Miller on the weakening of the referendum by including the cargo port (afterthought) but find the choice of date six days before Christmas equally abhorrent.
    Another local report quotes the Deputy Premier stating in regard to declines versus 2018 in cruise visitor statistics for the first 6 months of 2019 of 6%, and 7.5% in August, that “the berthing facility would enable similar results (to the increase in air arrivals) to be accomplished in the cruise sector.” However, according to the Tourist Board statistics of nearby Jamaica, with its surfeit of “cruise berthing facilities”, cruise passenger arrivals there declined much more: 6.7% in the first quarter, 23.2% in the second quarter and 23.5% in August. Forgive me therefore that I am unable to trust in such conclusions and assurances.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having cruised several times in the Caribbean I can tell you that myself and many other passengers were very reluctant to ashore in Jamaica. Nothing to do with the “facilities”.

      • Anonymous says:

        but that is exactly the point. demand for Jamaica went down. Cayman is the most popular stop on their itinerary. They will give us as much as want.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Right now I am really on the fence regarding the whole cruise port project… not because I don’t care… not because I am not paying attention. The problem is that both sides of the argument have some merit. There are some definite good reasons for the project and some valid reasons not to do it. I believe that we need much more education and honest information about this over the next couple of months. I don’t know if the average voter really has all the info we need at this point.

    • Anonymous says:

      The average voter and non-voter resident is sick and tired of sitting in gridlock every day, watching the dump get bigger and bigger while having their own garbage uncollected for 2 weeks. The average resident wants to see a government that is transparent, honest, and upfront about the backroom deals they appear to be making.

      We have listened to the same politicians promise to fix the dump and it still grows. We have listened to the same politicians promise to fix the schools and they’re still broken. We have watched the government pension and health care liabilities grow. This island is a ticking time bomb whether people want to believe it or not. The golden goose has been killed, cooked, and just about finished. BUT they would have you believe a cruise port will fix everything.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:25 am- if you’re on the fence the vote you need to make is NO! A NO vote means they can’t destroy the marine environment as they want to now. Voting NO means they’ll have to come up w/ a better way. Voting YES means our beaches and stay over tourism will be destroyed over time, when the sand leaves the beach and the diving industry plummets due to murky waters and dead coral etc etc. What will remain is that 25 ft high DUMP!! We can all go visit Dart Tower and look out in awe of the mess our govt made!

        • Anonymous says:

          So many unverified statements in this post… there’s every reason to believe a extended port won’t lead to sand erosion in the beach, or the destruction of all coral and marine life in Cayman. I’d like you to show evidence to support your claims here. Fearmongering doesn’t achieve anything – like saying the artic will be gone in 5 years. I’m willing to put my money it will still be there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then you should vote no. I was on the fence too until I realized how hard my own Government is trying to push through this project with hardly any check and balances done. I wanted all of the information. They’ve shown they do not want us to have it so my vote is NO.

      Even if they release the info closer to the date, they have already failed. If this was a great deal for us they’d be waving the information everywhere. They’re not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Regardless of how many times they are repeated, Unity Team fallacies do not equate to a merit case for a cruise pier…and even if they did, would not offset the exponential destruction and impact costs beyond the isolated construction phase.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:25 to make a long story short, you have to be for, or not for, the project.
      you like others will never have enough information.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ezzad is a distraction to government actually being productive and getting things done. The man has done nothing for our country.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Larger container ships will not lower prices. miller is correct.
    But the cost of products will be less, creating only more profit for the retailers.
    At the walmart half a gallon of almond milk cost 2.79 US, at fosters it is almost 7 CI. That has nothing to do with cost. That is greed.

    • Crab Claw says:

      You do realize Walmart’s profits on sales of $514.4 billion was only $3.8 billion in net profits which gives them a profit margin of roughly 0.7393% not a lot to pay customs on when your goods reach Cayman, Walmart and retail in Cayman is nothing in comparison, not counting the known fact any area Walmart moves into there is an expected tons of concession demanded of the county they move into and the welfare cost shoots up, because of lost local area business and low wages paid by Walmart, your cheap buys have a huge cost of pain and suffering. ,

    • Anonymous says:

      We live in BVI for a bit and they also import their grocery items; the cost is way less than here.. the local supermarkets are just greedy.. other than that the Cargo Port is currently operating at a loss

      • Anonymous says:

        And can’t the BVI also just bring inventory across the way from the USVI who also has US reduced cost.

    • Anonymous says:

      And they don’t pay duty on milk, so go figure!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who cares what the man who could only muster 200 votes (33% of those cast) in his own enclave thinks?

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps you can give your thoughts, if you have at least one. Or are you only capable of criticizing other people just because of who they are because you werent able to read or understand what they wrote/said?

      • Anonymous says:

        When Ezzard contributes something useful to society, I’ll share with you what I do.

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