Opposition blames premier for dump deal delays

| 09/08/2023 | 57 Comments
ReGen work on the landfill in December 2021

(CNS): The PPM is blaming the government for the continued delays and increasing costs associated with the long-awaited and troubled deal with Dart for the proposed waste-management project, ReGen. Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart has criticised Premier Wayne Panton’s handling of the situation left by the Progressive administration, in which McTaggart served as finance minister.

Last week, the premier announced that the July deadline on the financial aspects of the controversial agreement, signed by the PPM leadership just weeks before the 2021 election, had been postponed until September. But despite its role in creating the problems that the PACT government is dealing with, the opposition is casting blame on Panton, who has consistently stated that the agreement signed by the Progressives was badly flawed.

He has noted a catalogue of problems with the proposed deal and said it did not present value for money, a sentiment supported by the auditor general’s early reviews of the project. But in May, Panton claimed the talks were at a critical stage and on the brink of an agreement and said the next deadline had been pushed to July, a date that has now come and gone.

The PPM team is not only blaming the premier for the delays and spiralling costs in relation to the preliminary deal signed in March 2021 but also blaming the current government for the dwindling operational space at the landfill in George Town.

However, it was the PPM that allowed Dart to begin capping the dump (aka “Mount Trashmore”) well before any deal was signed by the developer, whose flagship property, Camana Bay, is immediately adjacent to the dump. The desire to cover up the unsightly and growing garbage pile is believed to be the main motivation for bidding on the project.

But the process toward a final deal has proved to be complex and challenging, not least because of the former administration’s rush right before the elections to show some form of progress on what has been an urgent problem for years.

Nevertheless, the opposition is now calling on Panton to come clean with the public and account for every dollar of the increased costs and risks that it says have resulted from the contract delays rather than any alleged inadequacies with the deal they signed.

The proposed project was always expected to be costly. Since the get-go, it has been surrounded by controversy, from the original tender requests and failed bidding process all the way through to the continuing arguments over the cost, which is now estimated at somewhere in the region of $1.5 billion.

The PPM claims that this is more than double the expected costs when the former administration signed the preliminary deal on the eve of the election. However, that agreement is said to be littered with critical gaps regarding costs and financing for significant parts of the future dump operations.

Nevertheless, the Progressives stated that the extra cost is due to the PACT government’s inattention to the project and the reopening of what they claim were previously closed issues. “The original deadline for the financial close of the contract was in September 2021,” the opposition said. “The PACT government’s failure to reach financial close by September 2021 meant that the Project Agreement terms had to be renegotiated, including the price that had previously been agreed.”

The PPM has claimed the cost of the new facilities at the time they signed the preliminary contract was fixed at $205 million. The financing cost for that was supposedly bundled in with the operating expenses so that the government would pay an average of $163 per tonne over the 25-year life of the project.

“The expected total cost of the contract in cash terms at the point the 2021 Project Agreement was signed was just under $670m,” the opposition leader said in a release. “Had the premier done his job, pushed hard for the negotiations to be completed and got the project over the line on time, $670m  would have been the cost to the country. Because he failed to do so, all the project costs were up for renegotiation, allowing everyone in the supply chain to revise their prices.”

McTaggart said that no excuses by the premier would hide the reason behind what he said was a dramatic increase in cost which he claimed was the renegotiation of previously agreed contract items. “The time is coming when the premier can no longer dodge questions,” McTaggart said. “He must come clean to the country and explain why the cost of this project has spiralled.”

Despite the PPM’s role in the continuing problems, McTaggart said the premier should acknowledge that the government’s delays have increased the risk of environmental damage because the current operational landfill will probably run out of space before the ReGen waste-to-energy facility is built.

It remains to be seen who is responsible for the remaining problems with the project and whether or not this ends up being a bad deal for the public. However, it is understood that the Office of the Auditor General has already raised various concerns about the deal signed by the previous administration and the problems it created for the incoming government.

The decision to allow Dart to begin capping such a significant part of the landfill before a deal was signed has also created a number of problems for the government’s negotiating team, according to those close to the situation.

Meanwhile, following the opposition’s attack on the current government and their refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions, CNS has contacted the premier’s office seeking comment on the broader situation, and we are awaiting a response.

It is now 2,125 days since Dart was selected as the preferred bidder on the project in what was the last of a number of bidding processes that had either been up-ended as a result of political pressure or had failed to attract qualified and appropriate bidders.

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Category: Environmental Health, Health, Politics

Comments (57)

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  1. Darlene Mckenzie says:

    How much more longer are they going 2 keep our people n d darkness?. Government now providing rolling bins for recyclable garbage. where will they b disposing,dumping, throwing away the garbage that cannot b recycled?.

  2. Anonymous says:

    March 2020
    “I want to say how sorry I am, and the entire government is, about yet another one of these massive landfill fires,” McLaughlin said

    ✅There have been more than 50 fires at the George Town landfill since 2017
    ✅Firefighters spent more than 170 hours fighting nine separate blazes at the site in 2022
    ✅ “powder keg waiting to go off”…it is only a matter of time before another major fire, like those seen in 2013 and 2020
    ✅mounds of trash sprawling haphazardly northward, closer to the highway
    ✅There is no evidence… that the trash is being compacted or covered on a regular basis.
    ✅the site is not being managed in accordance with accepted standards
    water used to damp down the constant fires at the site is exacerbating run-off of toxic ✅sludge into the canals and culverts that surround the site, feeding into the North
    ✅ a cancer hospital and million-dollar homes are going up next to an open, unlined site
    ✅the fire risk is particularly concerning given the proximity of the active fill site to the road and neighbouring properties
    ✅CNS articles headlines since 2020:
    •Smoked out residents allowed home
    •Smoke persists as dump continues to burn
    •Smoke clears as dump fire under control
    •Still some smoke plumes at dump
    •Fire crews get the better of dump fire
    •Fire crews stretched as landfill burned
    •Fire crews still on site as dump continues to burn
    •Fire-fighters have smouldering dump under control
    •LC landfill fires put out but crews still at GT dump
    •Fire crews damp down hotspots at dump

    🇰🇾Cayman Constitution:
    Protection of the Environment
    “You and your community have the right to the protection and preservation of your environment. The Government is obligated to implement legislation and other measures to protect Cayman’s heritage, wildlife, and land and sea biodiversity; prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote biodiversity; secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.”

    aims to empower people in the Cayman Islands to achieve optimal well-being through strategic policies, innovative programmes and proactive services, governed by the highest principles of justice, personal and public integrity, and excellence of standards.

    🇰🇾Department of Environmental Health
    protects the public from environmental health-related hazards through measures and activities including management of food hygiene and safety, laboratory services, district sanitation and rodent control, engineering and developmental control, solid and hazardous wastes including waste collection, recycling and disposal; and public education and promotion programmes.

    Still believe that there is nothing to worry about? Mad or criminally negligent people run this self-governing British Overseas Territory.

    • Safety of residents is questioned says:

      I guess Emergency Services in Maui aren’t different from that of Cayman. What kind of brain would make a decision to send alerts to mobile phones, tv and radio stations when a raging wall of fire was moving with 80mph speed?

      “Hawaii emergency management records show no indication that warning sirens sounded before people ran for their lives from wildfires on Maui that killed at least 55 people and wiped out a historic town. Instead, officials sent alerts to mobile phones, televisions and radio stations — but widespread power and cellular outages may have limited their reach.”

      How would Cayman notify its residents under similar circumstances? Lastly, and most importantly, where and how should people evacuate? Jump into the sea, like they did it in Lahaina? What about elderly and disabled?

      It’s good to talk about green energy, but isn’t it a priority under the circumstances?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the PPM would dare to share with the pubic the winning bid submission from ReGen, if it only existed. The ACC should be combing through the accounts of signatories on this “agree to agree” nonsense from a bidder with no landfill or waste management or WTE experience. Factually, source of funds from one of the most enriched chemical products legacy polluters of the last 100 years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    laughable…and caymanians think they can run their own affairs….

  5. Anonymous says:

    mount thrashmore…a monument to the incompetence of local politicians over the last 40 years.

  6. Anonymous says:

    did-nothing-ppm blaming no-plan-pact????
    …just another day in wonderland……zzzzzzzz

  7. Anonymous says:

    with the he says, she says…
    but don’t forget about the starfish navigation system

  8. B. Hoovie says:

    It thus behooves me to say to the Ambassador of Absurdistan that he should Fix the Damn Dump. Hopefully he will be able to hear me over the noise of the Leafblowers.

    • Anonymous says:

      It would, at this juncture, be decorous of me to encapsulate my sincere sentiment of gratitude for ones aide-memoire.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What does the PPM officials have to gain by getting this deal completed why they are banging on about it?

    Why did they rush to sign an agreement to make an agreement just 3 weeks before the 2021 Elections?

    Cui bono? Certainly does not seem like the people of the Cayman Islands.

    Why did the PPM officials rush to sign a deal behind closed doors with Dart? The largest *construction* deal in CI Govt history

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if CIG follows the Maui disaster.
    Maui is an isolated island just like Grand Cayman.
    There’s only one road out of Lahaina.
    There were no time to run
    There were nowhere to run to and hide
    The disaster is unprecedented
    No one was prepared for such a scenario

    Such a disaster is possible in Grand Cayman under the right weather conditions if the Dump ignited in several spots.

    Weather patterns are indeed changing. Summertime afternoon storms in Florida are normal, but not this year. It’s mostly dry and mornings thunderstorms prevail.
    Don’t forget about this year storm in the Gulf of Mexico that was moving South instead of North-this was an unprecedented event, as far as I know.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brilliant comment. I’m curious as to why the lone thumbs downer didn’t articulate their disagreement with grown ppl words as you raise a valid point. Everytime our dump has caught fire, it has been after a week of heavy winds and they act surprised everytime. Glad I’m not the only one that sees it, sad that it is there to be seen.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lahaina, Hawaii:
        ‘We just had the worst disaster I’ve ever seen. All Lahaina is burnt to a crisp. It’s like an apocalypse,’ said one stunned resident on Wednesday.

    • Anonymous says:

      I used to vacation in Lahaina. Many times. Good memories.

    • Anonymous says:

      In Cayman the CIG sponsored hobby agricultural sector is basically guaranteed the ability to set fire indiscriminately to supposed farmland. Without a care in the world or any duty of care to adjoining land owners.

      So much scope for disaster, especially in this high heat environment, and the only protection is the dedication and professionalism of the Fire Service who often have to beat these fires out by hand due to limited or no access.

      People who set land fires for “agricultural clearing” or to burn trash or overgrowth need to face jail time and harsh financial penalties. It’s no different than arson.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The state of the waste management in Cayman IS CIG’ fault!
    every single resident is responsible for his/her contribution to the problem which is growing exponentially and becoming unmanageable.

    UNLESS each and every resident accepts his/her responsibility for the waste volume reduction, NOTHING will change. You can start with refusing to buy stuff that ends up in a waste basket in 5 minutes or the next day.

    You can start buying items in glass jars and bottles. You refuse to buy anything in disposable containers. You should ban the “themed” merchandize such as t-shirts and other junk that goes with all kinds of awareness events, parades, etc. This alone would significantly reduce the waste volume.
    Or you can do nothing, then you would have no one to blame if (when) something catastrophic happens on this God forsaken rock.

    As for CIG, sorry, none of them is fit for the positions they occupy, therefore not much should be expected. It is like hiring a plumber to bake bread. You might get rivets and bolts in your loaf.

  12. hypocrisy says:

    Gee, PPM had all the time in the world to get the dump deal done during the 8 years they were in office. Instead, they did little, other than just ahead of elections when they made a big commotion to look like they were doing something. Now, when they’re no longer in power, they sit on the sidelines and criticise Panton and his team. Does the word “hypocrisy” comes to mind?

    • Anonymous says:

      It comes to mind when discussing just about any aspect of Cayman’s politics!

    • Anonymous says:

      100%. People who did nothing moaning about people doing nothing. Well actually, PPM did (literally) pave the way for the rampant development we see today.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! PPM was a “Hooray for us” group that should never be in charge of anything in the Cayman Islands again.
      They seemed to be only interested in their own well-being!

      • Anonymous says:

        PPM= People Provoking McKeewa

        Seems like dat is all they have been good for. PACT only has had 2 years in to review and correct the 8 years of carnage the PPM has left. PPM has’nt left a good legacy to build upon by anyone. No statesmen came out of the PPM at all. They have been more of the same type of self-serving politicians self before country.

  13. Anonymous says:

    As I inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide in this hour of deep thoughts I must address this matter upon us all and behooved to say swifter action is utmost. Some say Captain Planet is the one to solve dump but I say brilliant minds should come to the forefront and honorable McKeeva to squeeze dump just do it already!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Check Maui news. Just imagine what would happen if the Dump explodes. They’re beautifying the Dump…nobody is talking about monitoring the buildup of gases… And if CIG is in charge of its “safety”…prayers won’t help.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Can we FIRE everyone involved in this project including Waffling Wayne ?

  16. Anonymous says:

    The longer they leave it, the more difficult it will be to solve…

  17. Anonymous says:

    PACT should really leak/publish the full 40 page TBD agreement signed by PPM. Roy McTaggart, Joey Hew and the PPM are making lots of noise but cannot afford for the truth to come out.

    Time has come to let the public read what the Auditor General rebuked as “not value for money” and make up their own minds about DART and PPM, once and for all. Let the light shine in. The truth is only commercially sensitive to the losing party: in this case the people of the Cayman Islands.

  18. ppm DISTRESS SIGNAL says:

    PPM negotiated a bad deal for the government with DART. The Auditor General’s report on the value for money deal about the ReGen project is clear.
    The previous PPM led Cabinet including Joey Hew, Dwayne Seymour, Alden McLaughlin and Roy McTaggart were giving Cayman away for years and signing any deal put before them with many developers and rushed thru the signing of several deals before the April 2021 general elections.
    PPM are sell outs and hypocrites none have any shame and have proven they cannot be trusted. In addition Wayne Panton is a hopeless leader of a pact of fools.

  19. Sunrise says:

    Dumb and Dumber!! This is the only way I can describe the past and present government representatives!! Every day when you read what is going on, seems like one of the best comedy sitcoms to watch. Love it when they blame each other, like school kids. I really don’t have to turn my television on for a good comedy show, just read what is happening with the government representatives, and that will tie you up in knots!! 😂😂. Unfortunately, these are our so called leaders, but we know exactly who the real leader is and he is not an elected member.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another key PPM project has resulted in another bad deal for Cayman. All will finally come to light about the dump project and why they rushed to sign a deal

    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      But I thought Sir Alden announced a deal on the dump just before the last election.

      McTaggart was there for the big announcement too.

      What happened Sir Alden and McTaggart?

      Caymanians have short memories.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Seriously this is taking so long that I have probably behooved myself on the toilet enough times to create my own dump higher and more pungent than Dart’s dump. Whoever is in charge of this project needs to be dumped.

  21. Monopolly says:

    Dart was not the solution then and Dart is not the solution now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart won the contract in an open procurement process that was managed by the current Premier’s Chief officer- Ms Ahearn.

      Second, Dart certainly had/has the ability to fund the project and to hire the best people and firms to get it done.

      Third they have a stake in this country and this helps guarantee success.

      Nothing says to me they are not suitable to be part of the solution. In fact they seem ideally suited.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dart has PPM in their pockets. They are the master that control PPM

      • Anonymous says:

        PPM was always a Dart supporter and act like a puppet on strings. Why didn’t they get things done all those years they were in power? Just more political posturing by a bunch of cry babies who are not at the feed trough anymore.

      • Anonymous says:

        Spoken as a true Dart supporter. Thank you

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m wondering how much Dart pays to have people writing tales about his greatness! Some countries wouldn’t let him enter their country……. Some made him leave!

    • Putting a lipstick on the Dump solves nothing. says:

      Dart, Dart, Dart…like a broken record…meantime there is still NO 21st century Waste Management strategy…
      Dart knows that the cost is astronomical and why would he want to bear the burden of it while Cayman residents live as if there is no tomorrow-residents alone can significantly reduce the volume of waste by refusing to buy disposable and overpackaged items. Instead they’re waiting on someone to fix the problem that is not fixable until they fix it themselves. Remember expats can leave if $hit hits the fan…while residents have nowhere to run and hide…
      P.S. see how Maui residents were trying to escape the raging fire…jumping into the Ocean-so far 36 dead bodies… Smoke alone would kill in minutes…and there is only one road out of the Dump area, and with the right weather conditions and wind it could be catastrophic.
      Refresh your memory, and imagine the entire Dump is on fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sWq83f7ssE

      Premier says sorry for landfill fires. There’s no ‘simple fix’ for the dump (March 10,2020)
      ““I want to say how sorry I am, and the entire government is, about yet another one of these massive landfill fires,” McLaughlin said”

  22. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of who is to blame, the cost of the Dump remediation along with methane and other gases monitoring is already astronomical.
    Then it gets even more complicated and expensive in the absence of a waste management strategy.
    In other words, I’d sell my property if I had one and leave the island. Living in the vicinity of an active volcano isn’t the risk I’d take.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most embarrassing pile of garbage out there. And I’m not talking about the dump itself. The whole thing stinks.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is just PPM back biting. The Premier is the blame yes but share that blame with PPM, UDP and all the successive parties along the 50+ years the dump has been in existence. As if an attitude of dereliction over implementing a civilised solution didn’t prevail over the years? And if there was ever initiative, integrity and commitment in our Cabinet and government we would have a beautiful forested mound and a waste facility you’d hardly notice for the stack and a wisp of steam some 20 years ago.
      Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t dare to hurl blame.


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