Key port info coming after referendum

| 15/11/2019 | 76 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell and Russell Benford, Vice President, Government Relations, Americas for Royal Caribbean Cruises

(CNS): During the second public meeting about the proposed cruise pier project officials made it clear that much of the information about the environmental impact will not be available until next year. The public will also not see the final business case justifying the controversial proposal until after the referendum on it. When asked specific questions about the impact on reefs outside the dredge pit, such as Eden Rock, during and after construction, the Verdant Isle group admitted there was much work to do to understand these issues, which will not be available for many months.

The meeting was held at the Family Life Centre on Thursday, and although there was not a significant turnout by members of the public, government officials and representatives from the Verdant Isle Port Partners were bombarded with questions.

The policy not to allow attendees to interact directly with the people there to answer questions, but rather to insist that questions are submitted in writing resulted in the panel and other officials being swamped. The attendees were told, with just around 45 minutes left on the clock for the meeting, that there were still 115 written questions to be asked. The government has said it will post every question and an answer on the promotional website within 72 hours after each meeting.

Premier Alden McLaughlin and even the Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, known for his good humour, both became visible agitated and frustrated with the questions, many of which had been asked many times over. At one point the premier was asked about Carnival’s poor track record on pollution, which has led the cruise line to face criminal charges and significant fines. McLaughlin declared the question ridiculous and refused to answer it.

There is a long history now of government and officials not being able to offer the details that members of the public demand, and questions continue to go partially unanswered. But it became apparent during Thursday’s meeting that one of the major reasons for this is that so much information is still to be collected. The representatives from Verdant Isle conceded that there is a great deal of work to be done before many of the questions being asked can be answered.

Stran Bodden, the chief officer in the tourism ministry, also confirmed that the final business case, a critical document that should set out clearly and precisely the justification for the project, will not be ready until after Cayman goes to the polls to make a decision. Bodden said he expected that document will be completed and available some time in the first quarter of next year.

The full negative impact of the work on the marine environment in and around where construction will take place is still a matter of conjecture, as is the process of coral and wreck relocation. Silt and sedimentation management during the project and afterwards from the ships’ engines and how much coral that will kill are also major issues that the representatives cannot address until the necessary environmental assessment and geotechnical studies are done.

During the meeting government pressed home its increasingly narrowing messages around this project, especially the unsubstantiated claim that without it cruise tourism will eventually die at some unspecified point in the future, and that we are in desperate need of a cargo port and the only way to get that is to build the cruise piers so others can pay for it.

However, the meeting served to support claims by those opposed to the project that we should not be having the referendum in just five weeks time and it needs to be postponed. In the absence of so much critical information about how this project will impact the environment, voters will be going to the polls with their decision based on hunches and speculation rather than hard facts.

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Comments (76)

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  1. Tired of the Nonsense!!! says:

    CIG your time has run out and we the people ain’t gifting you this port so you can buy your big rides and drive around in style while our country gone be ran by DART AND VERDANT ISLE GROUP. It’s clear to me that this port is of special interest only to a select few of people that will directly benefit from it. You solidified your fate by taking us Caymanians for fools!!


  2. simply VOTE NO!! says:

    By the gov’t not revealing more information, the clear choice is to VOTE NO! If you don’t have all the facts before the referendum date- just VOTE NO! We don’t need this RIGHT AWAY, we need to do it RIGHT! There’s too much at stake here! Why on Earth would they NOT ALLOW the DOE to attend these meetings??? How can they even do that? If that’s not a clear indication of how murky the waters will become if this goes through, I don’t know what is!


  3. TNB says:

    #VoteNO ! Caymanian CANNOT vote for something until we have all the information. Vote No – the Government needs to provide the information BEFORE we give them our consent to move ahead. Until then – VOTE NO!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The article raised questions regarding update on environmental impact and updated business case:
    Latest proposed port design => Less environmental impact and protection from storm flooding in George Town.
    Proposed financing model => no up front money from Government and no financial guarantees from Government.

    • MR says:

      “No financial guarantees from Government”…

      Please tell me which person or entity in this greedy world would be “giving” our country $200 million dollars to build a cruise port with no guarantee of getting it back???

      I cannot believe the Minister of Tourism himself even had the nerve to use this line… this whole country will be “guaranteeing” these cruise lines get their money back PLUS INTEREST for any money they contribute and whoever is handing up the excess funds that the cruise lines are not covering will also surely have some form of “guarantee” that they will be paid back…

      Ppl can’t be so fool to think there isn’t a looooonnngggg pay-back guarantee clause in whatever agreement our Gov signing our people in to with this port.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The anti-port campaign leaders know full well that any commercial enterprise is not likely to spend millions of dollars more studies on the port with the referendum looming. And if Government were to fund the updated studies you can then switch from complaining that the updated studies are not taking place before the referendum to accusing Government of spending even larger sums of public funds on the port before the referendum. So checkmate you think you have won, but who would be the real winners and losers? And maybe you have overlooked that it ain’t over yet.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That is just utterly appalling. The devious, underhand and arrogant manner in which this lot have handled this is truly abhorrent. Cot no and vote these crooks out.

    • Anonymous says:

      We cannot vote out any civil servants that may be complicit though, can we Governor?

    • Anonymous says:

      Love how there’s a room full of paid dweebs who’s job it is to click thumbs down so it looks to the common man like there’s people supporting this bullshank

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you support the port vote YES
    If you do not support the port vote NO
    If you are unsure about the port vote NO

    Without the information how can anyone be sure this is why we must vote NO and give the Premier a miracle.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I love the fact that there are people on social media in the pro-port bubble going around saying they already have all the information and have made their decision
    Relying on documents from 2015 despite the fact that the design has been significantly altered

    Lets be clear, anyone claiming to have all the info is admitting 2 things:

    They don’t care about getting the information despite claiming to be satisfied with years old reports and releases, and regardless of what studies and data in future show they will support the project

  9. Anonymous says:

    and to think I was supporting the piers…and in-turn, the government is treating my people this way…how fool was I..

  10. Anonymous says:

    8:38 and 11:57 – when are you people going to debate the real issues. This is not about the tenders business or tender operators. It is about the economic impact, about the unnecessary destruction of the marine environment and a beautiful Caribbean Harbour, the mismanagement of our islands tourism product and overloading the islands infrastructure, the potential damage to Seven Mile Beach and the consequent damage to our stay over tourism along with our real estate/ property/construction industry and the devotion of funds away from schools, the dumps and a variety of social problems we have from already being overcrowded.
    The tender operators were in the right place at the right time, helped developed the cruise industry in Cayman without a dime being invested by the C.I. Government over the last forty + years. No different to any business that showed some early foresight and made the most of it like our Duty Free and Supermarket friends.
    And do you really think they get all of the per head $ you spout about. I guess they get free boats from a church charity and the 40+ Caymanian staff are volunteers. Be assured the business costs for that many boats and operations runs into many millions per year. And no, they don’t get paid for all passengers – some of the ships tender their own passengers.
    So, like most of the pro dock supporters you miss the real issues and bark on without knowing some of the basic facts to make a worthwhile decision. And to top it off, we are all going to have to vote YES or NO without having all the facts presented. It is a sham, a shame and a potential travesty. Too much at risk, so use some discretion, common sense and do what is good for the country – don’t build it.

    • A. Lovinggood says:

      Well said – “Anonymous 11:26 am” in all this debate, the Government has spoken about the tender company as if they are and have been a burden all these years! If it wasn’t for C.M.S. putting up THEIR money to build the tenders from the early 70’s where would our cruise tourism be today? Never in any of these debates have I heard the Government in consultation with C.M.S. publicly saying “thank you for all that you have done thus far, we appreciate what you have done…”. What a true slap in the face to the owners of C.M.S. from their own people; and a slap in the face to the rest of us. The Government is lucky I do not own C.M.S. or they would know what “no tendering” would feel, look and smell like.

      Common sense is not so common in this debate – only greed is.

      In Friday’s compass page 23 Government revenues quoted $45.0m in “stamp duty land transfer” – continue with your greed Government and let this go through and see that nice figure dwindle right down to nothing because our stay over tourist and foreign owners of the beautiful 7 mile beach condos will no longer have pristine crystal clear waters to look at – they will be looking at nothing but MILKY waters! They will take their money elsewhere, but as Verdant stated in Government’s Pro-Port meetings “7 mile beach is known as a pocket beach.” I guess that means it will not be touched…. Verdant also stated “2015 EIA would NOT impact 7 mile beach”. That is not the message I heard in the debates in the House the week of October 28th. Representatives visiting from Verdant Isle haven’t been here long enough to see and it seems as though our government officials have convenient amnesia. But then again Verdant promises a consistent tourist season now all year round. I would like to have the same crystal ball you do!

      VOTING CAYMANIANS DO NOT BE FOOLED by what you are trying to be sold by Verdant – who are dominating the Government meetings. Is that contract signed? Seems so!

      VOTE NO on 19th – TAKE BACK OUR ISLAND!!! Leave it the way it is – it is already too developed!

      • Anonymous says:

        lol you would probably stop tendering in interim while the port is constructed to “send a message” only for another savy businessman to fill that void.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If I was making $6 per 2,000,000 every year I’d put tons of money to keep that too.
    $12,000,000 times the 25 years they would be making the dock for is $300 MILLION reasons to fight the dock. So I guess we can either make a dock for $200 million and get a dock for the country or let the boat tender guys take $300 MILLION.

    • Anonymous says:

      That would be an easy business case.
      Instead of $250 million dock, buy tender vessels for $2 million and cancel the contract.

      However, government knows it is more cost effective to outsource this service.

      I am hopeful that the doctored incomplete business case will have this as an alternative.

    • MR says:

      Would rather support a Caymanian owned business than the developers and cruise execs who would find another port to build and dock at by tonight if Cayman sank today.

  12. Richard Wadd says:

    1) What is this Government so afraid of?
    2) The open disdain shown for the CAYMANIAN people & voters is appalling!
    3) The people have the RIGHT to know ALL of the information & facts, both Pro-Port and Anti-Port.

  13. Anonymous says:

    ‘a very ugly turn’ indeed Mr Premier, very ugly

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well that’s additional evidence for the CPR and NT injunction applications. You can’t make this up – openly telling the public that the business case, which is meant to be at the heart of the decision making process, will only be available after the referendum and contract is signed. This is like Trump saying he could shot someone in the street and get elected – they just don’t give a damn what the public think; going through the motions in the hope that apathy or fools will get them across the 50% of all voters line.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Alden and Moses doing the same old thing..Bring people from foreign to tell us “idiot’ Caymanians what we need to hear and believe…Hate to tell you guys but the Kool Aid pitcher is empty…We not drinking that anymore!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Vote No” Kurt Christian

  17. Anonymous says:

    This meeting was a waste of time without all the information the people deserve to make a decision before the Referendum. Does the Government and the Cruise Industry think the people of the Cayman Islands are that stupid. #VoteNo

  18. Arthur Rank says:

    Interesting isn’t it, when reasonable questions are deemed “ridiculous”. Interesting too when reasonable requests for fundamental facts ( like environmental effects) are postponed until after the referendum, surely these facts were essential to the original proposal, and interesting when politicians are still trying to insist on a project when most of the rationale, economic, and environmental are against it, because, if I were a suspicious man, I would suspect vested interest. Surely that cannot be so? Well, if it isn’t the case, are they really that stupid?

  19. Anonymous says:


    Let’s have a referendum but we won’t actually give you the key information you need to make an informed decision until AFTER the referendum.

    Our government takes us for fools.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s going to look great on the judicial review. A judge will love the concept that a judgment should be made before evidence is presented.

    • Anonymous says:

      A very sad reflection on the Caymanian level of education of our politicians here.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Then vote no. Let them keep pushing the project and reveal all the information after we vote no. Then they can ask us again.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Secrets and lies, no research, government being allowed to keep its financial dealings on this project out of public domain, allegedly telling civil servants that they cannot vote in the referendum (or even talk about it on social media), moving the electoral goalposts…. If this amount of BS is not enough to open the eyes of the population to get out and vote NO then God knows what is….
    However I fear they will ignore the outcome and go ahead anyway…my guess is that too many palms have already been greased(just my opinion !)

  22. J|) says:

    I’m currently on the fence… failure to provide this crucial information will likely result in a No vote from my clan if we are unable to make a fully informed decision.

    After all, that’s the whole point of this vote. You want to “to get on with it”? Go shoot yourselves in your foot then. Maybe you’ll get a Yes if you delay and provide the information. Maybe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Beyond the Enviromental aspect (key for sure!) who really wants another 200K tourists here? I do not believe that 4,000 caymanians make a living offf cruise tourism. More like 500 taxi drivers. And the $$ lost (given) $3 per head for the port fees mean we MUST have the extra 200,000 tourists to break even on current revenue from landing fees.
      ANYONE consider another IVAN or economic depression or any dip in cruise industry and the project fails- too much at risk and the numbers do not add up to a good deal.
      Traffic, plastic, pollution, that is what another million cruise tourist will bring!
      And jobs? Right…the profit goes to owners like McAlpine ans they have NOT said they will hire 100 caymanians? Nope, more work permits so WHO is really going to profit as we overdevelop our tiny land?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Governor Roper, you have assured us you will be monitoring the process to ensure all is fair and above board. What say ye?

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s a small man that was warned the minute he got off the plane, by McKeeva, that a ‘cockaroach has no place in a rooster fight.’ He won’t do Jack.

      • Anonymous says:

        Than he should stop telling the public about the standards of good governance. His fence sitting risks making him complicit. The distinctions between being permissive and giving permission risk being blurred.

  24. Anonymous says:

    More and more this whole thing stinks of government manipulation. They never expected there to be sufficient signatures to demand a referendum. Now they are scrabbling to make it ineffectual. How can the Public possibly vote on an issue where all the essential information is not available to them.
    It would appear that in Cayman, Democracy is dead – and all decisions are made by a small power group behind closed doors.

  25. Anonymous says:

    CIG – What a joke. A bad one at that.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Vote No.

    – Whodatis

  27. Anonymous says:

    More and more certain that this whole thing stinks of government manipulation. They never expected sufficient signatures to demand a referendum, and now they are scrabbling to prevent it being in any way effective.
    How can the public vote on an issue where vital information is not available to them – it appears that in Cayman the concept of Democracy is dead, and decisions are being made by a small power group behind closed doors.

    • Anonymous says:

      Follow the money…when people want to hide things you can believe their is a money trail somewhere…CI$200M is a lot of money and a lot of pockets will be lined..

  28. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  29. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to step in and stop this train wreck. We can not go forward with the Cruise Port Referendum or this Port without more information on the environmental impact or the peoples questions being answered. How can information going to be available after the referendum be ok ? Alden or the Governor the people have spoken listen. Step in and stop this now. Caymanian’s have finally woke up and are wanting what is best for THEIR country. Vote No if only for more information.

  30. Anonymous says: A billion dollar industry for the cruise liners… Cuba was the demand…which now have a ban…major loss for the cruise industry….Mexico will be next…due to crime… of course they will now have to come to a least lucrative destination…but it is better than losing all together. Of course they will build the piers…desperation will make you do anything….the government thinks it is a good deal, however, it is all for the interest of the cruise industry…be smart Cayman.

  31. Anonymous says:

    So if common sense prevails – the Government will wait until all environmental assessments are in and the final business case is available to the public – very simple.

    If Government doesn’t wait then we can only presume that corruption and collusion are major elements of the overall plan.

    So, so-called Honourable Mo$e$, AlDart, Juliecoatofmanycolours, etc – do the right thing and delay the vote until all the relevant information is made for the public to make a truly informed decision.

    O by the way not a PPM hater, actually voted for one of their candidates in all election that they have been recognized as an official political party. Just tired of the double-talk of transparency and the lack of transparency.

    Heard rumour that President Trump was affiliated with certain persons in the cruise ship business- more food for thought!!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    How the HELL can anyone make an informed decision without the facts?

    EITHER WAY??!!!

    But especially to vote in favor.

    It has to be a NO vote without a doubt until Government presents ALL the facts, if only to delay the process for possible future consideration.

    Anyone voting otherwise would be foolish and akin to asking someone to perform brain surgery on themselves without checking if they are even a doctor, if they have a hospital to do the surgery in, if they are going to sedate them and if they will be around afterwards for follow up visits……

  33. Rascal says:

    What tops this whole thing off is the same company who have been tasked with organizing these information sessions on behalf of CIG, are the same ones organizing a big marathon event which occurs on the waterfront of George Town.
    This year’s marathon will be the last if the port goes through. Know that.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am no port supporter, but suggesting this as a reason to vote no is BS. They’ll simply change the route. The distance is the critical piece – not where it starts and finishes. Plenty other reasons to vote no – that is not one of them.

  34. Anonymous says:

    A classic case of the cart before the horse.!! Only sad corrupt politicians would expect a sensible electorate to vote on something before the facts are available. Both Alden and Moses should be ashamed of themselves and it is no wonder that people are wondering what they both stand to gain personally.
    VOTE NO. !!!!!

  35. Anonymous says:

    There’s an old Soviet joke from the Cold War era that roughly goes like this.

    Stalin orders his security detail to take out one of his senior aides and shoot him for treason.

    The head of the detail asks what the man did wrong and Stalin replies, ‘Just do it, I’ll worry about the details later.’

    This is going the same way.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Seriously how are we supporting a project without all the information and considering voting yes for a project that is geared to benefit Verdant Isle and dew duty free retailers? Has the government lost its bloodily mind? This is a travesty that they think we would accept such bollocks!!

    How am I supposed to make an informed decision or support the port project but will not be given key information until after the outcome of the referendum and my government has mortgaged Cayman’s future? Have they not seen the environmental disasters and fines associated to Royal and Carnival lines? The blind pursuit of this project is the definition of taking the pi$$!!!!!!

    The arrogance is shocking. Time for Cayman to Vote No to all these empty promises utter bull$hit from a government detached from reality.

  37. Anonymous says:

    We’ll that confirms my no vote

  38. Anonymous says:

    How many locals do the Tender Operators hire? What is the revenue by the Tender operator each year: 1.8M x $5.25

  39. Anonymous says:

    “The business case will not be available until the referendum”…smells like a rat…it would be in the best interest of the country to postpone the referendum. This is just not adding up.

  40. Me says:

    What a joke!
    Set the referendum date, then reveal the data that we are voting on after?

    How can we make an informative decision with no data?

    That’s the same as saying to us, “vote for me, then I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do”.

    What a circus.
    Please resign as the Premier.
    I will not follow blindly in the dark.
    Anyone who does so, it is clear that your motives are dictated to you.

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