Taking back control

| 14/04/2021 | 9 Comments

Green Hornet writes: The concept of control has always fascinated me because control not only affects my life and that of billions of others, it also affects the lives of those plants and animals with whom we share this tiny blue planet. Okay, before we go any further, what does the OED say about control? “Power of directing, command, (as in) directing an activity. The power to influence people’s behavior or the course of events. The restriction of an activity, tendency, or phenomenon.”

I was thinking about control the other day in the context of our current political masters. Right now, they continue to push through an immigration policy that will control the type and number of immigrants who can live and work in Cayman. They especially want those rich ones who can afford million dollar condos. Meanwhile, poverty amongst Caymanians is out of control.

At the same time, they are making no effort whatsoever to control the absurd pace of construction that surrounds us at every corner. There still is no decent development plan for this island except for Seven Mile Beach area, and, from what I hear, it seems we are all waiting until the current election is over for the rest of them. I think I’ll believe that when I see it. How many decades has the plan been shuffled from one government to the next?

So, who is going to live in all these luxury apartments, condos and houses that are being built if we are trying to restrict (control) our population base? 100,000 is what we are told we are restricting it to. Hmmm, then we will eventually find ourselves overrun and the island totally overpopulated, like many other small islands – try Singapore, Hong Kong or, closer to home, San Andres. And this overpopulation will take place at the expense of what remains of the natural habitat and the creatures which live there.

Out of control

While on the subject of control, let’s take a look at the meaning of the phrase “out of control”. It simply means “no longer subject to guidance”. Well, that certainly describes the state of development in Cayman. There seems to me to be no guidance whatsoever. And don’t expect the planning department to provide any; they just tell you what kind of window frames, bathrooms and doors you can put in your house. Members of the Central Planning Authority will rubber stamp anything put in front of them.

What else is out of control? For one thing, the number of vehicles on the roads. Unlike Bermuda, which severely restricts (controls) the number of vehicles permitted per household – one – we seem incapable of exercising any control over our desire to have one vehicle for every member of the household over 17.

The Esterley Tibbetts Highway is completed, and the commute from West Bay to George Town is now a quick zoom down the road and through the tunnel. Tunnel???? But unless we start restricting (another word for controlling) the number of vehicles on our roads, I’ll predict a return to gridlock ere long – certainly by the time Camana Bay, its suburbs and hotels reach full build-out.

Now we are turning our eyes further to the east and looking at building more highways so people can speed up their commute to George Town from the eastern end of the island. Hmmm… I would say that our highway construction programme is somewhat out of control, no matter how many roundabouts we build, we still end up with gridlock.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said some 15 odd years ago that building “rails” was too expensive. What he presumably meant was that the government wasn’t even looking at mass transit, is not prepared to even attempt to control how people travel – other than by car. Why not? Surely, the cost of wear and tear on our lives is sufficient to justify providing us with a reasonable alternative to automobile transportation?

What about the cost to our healthcare system of all those motor vehicle accidents caused by the anger and frustration of sitting in a line-up for hours on end – not to mention heart attacks and strokes brought on by the stress?

Buses … well, all that happens with buses is that they get stuck in the same traffic jams as everyone else – whenever they arrive. Ahhh, the George Town shuttle bus… great idea but how many people actually travel on it? And at what time is it actually supposed to make its regular stops?

We need light rail transit

If we want to exercise reasonable control over transportation on Grand Cayman, we need to build a simple transit system like light rail transit (LRT) which spokes out from the George Town hub and is connected to a series of car parks, where people can leave their vehicles during the day or get picked up by mini-buses that will take them to the main LRT stations. Never happen, our current crop of politicos tell us. Impossible.

And while I’m discussing control, what about that old self-control, folks? That means (OED): “the ability to control one’s emotions or behavior, especially in difficult situations”.

We don’t seem to be very good at self-control in Cayman. We have over-indulged our consumerist tendencies until we are deeply in debt, because we just have to have all that “stuff” – now. The latest electronic gadgets, the latest boat, the latest SUV, the trips to Miami to buy even more stuff. Borrow, borrow, borrow until our credit explodes. On and on we go, apparently without exercising any control over our behaviour. Is it really necessary, for example, to give almost every high school graduate a new car? I don’t think so – yet we do!

We feel we have to have almost everything we see advertised on the net or TV without any thought as to whether or not we actually need it. Usually, we don’t need it at all. We want it, though!

Greed has overtaken this once frugal nation. It is interesting to read Roy Bodden’s book, The Cayman Islands in Transition. He quotes Andrew Morris Gerrard, Commissioner of the Cayman Islands from 1953 to 1957, who warned the people that they were selling their birthright for “a mess of pottage”.

“He was one of the most enlightened, energetic leaders we ever had, who told Caymanians that in the development of the Islands, they were expecting to have their cake and eat it, too. They thought society wouldn’t change, and he told them that was a pipe dream,” Mr Bodden was quoted as saying at the book’s launch.

More to life than possessions

Mr Bodden continued: “Gerrard said they shouldn’t be chasing after material things and neglecting arts and culture and education. Now this is a consumer society fueled by the internet and television. Cayman is only now coming of age because we have people who understand that there is more to life than living in a castle and having two SUVs. Where are we going?’

It doesn’t look like we’ve used much self-control since Mr Gerrard’s day, does it? We have pursued the almighty dollar at the cost of our island’s ecology. We have destroyed, and continue to destroy, the ecological integrity of Cayman almost without any thought as to what we are doing. We are basically out of control.

It is time to say “stop”, and not only to instigate some self-control but to put in a series of controls which will stop the continued spread of the urban cancer which is overwhelming us. To do this, we must control our perceived need to have more than we need.

We need to take back control of our island from the developers and speculators to whom we have sold it. This is probably the only way we are going to be able to protect what is left of the beauty of the flora and fauna which make it worth living here. If you want the concrete, go live in Miami – or, if you prefer island life with your concrete, try Singapore or Hong Kong with their teeming millions.

If you wish to contact the Green Hornet directly, you can e-mail me at: caymanhornet@yahoo.com. All messages will be treated confidentially.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature, Viewpoint

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The idea of a light rail system is absolute kooky talk. We are drifting to a place where we forgot where we came from and where environmental fascism Harms our growth. The riches came so easy that we forget how difficult life was in the old days not so long ago. We are at a crossroads where we neglect to tell our children about the hardships we endured and that comes to haunt us. As a nation Caymanians forget that being underprivileged does not mean having to do without the latest iPhone upgrade, or a new Kia. On the one hand we speak of wanting to raise the minimum wage and bring affordable housing, while at the same time we complain about a raise in cost of living (caused by higher wages) and wanting to save so many swamps we now call “mangroves” which is where we would build those affordable homes. We are all living in a dreamworld facilitated by the largess of investors but at the same time making moves to harm those investors ability to drive further growth. We are beginning to spit in the hands of those Who made us feel rich. This is an enormous mistake. I was of the hope that our government would recognize these dichotomies but welcoming a school of newcomers who have no idea how the world works and who want to apply some idealistic overlay in a time of potential growth disruptions is dangerous… Tell your representatives to look at the big picture and understand how their island actually works. It is not all doom and gloom. There is great hope to create new prosperity for Caymanians by welcoming growth and creating new businesses for Caymanians inside that growth. On the other hand trying to stop the growth-train because we are a little bit out of our comfort zone will make it too hard for those who do the investing to stay here – We will find ourselves Wondering where it all went wrong – and why it is so much worse for our children. Who will blame us for derailing The success we could’ve otherwise had

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Green Party won the same number of seats as the Cayman Islands People’s Party.

  3. With the collapse of Cayman 27 TV we seem to have a massively disturbing information hole on election day. I don’t think anyone could reasonably expect government channels to fill this crucial information gap.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You are dreaming, Green Hornet. Light rail costs $70 million per mile in the US and would cost significantly more to build, maintain and operate here. It would cost billions to implement here on the scale you suggest. And that doesn’t include the enormous cost of land acquisition for the rails and car parks. How do you intend to pay for that? Since you’re dreaming, maybe you plan on planting money trees, too?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Control in Cayman and Caribbean = LODGE.
    Thumbs up for truth, thumbs down for Lodge.

    • Anonymous says:

      Green Hornet did not mention how he will help support the
      Thousands that will be left with no JOB
      Who Controls SEX, will Control Population Growth!

      • Anonymous says:

        Bravo Green Hornet! You’re spot on. Clearly you can’t run yet but…..soon, maybe? The (elevated) rail concept is forward thinking but I wonder which of today”s/tommorrow’s winners would be so wise?

      • Anonymous says:

        Stop obfuscating.

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