Cayman continues to import a huge volume of vehicles

| 25/03/2024 | 55 Comments
Traffic congestion on Grand Cayman, Cayman News Service
Traffic congestion on Linford Pierson Highway (courtesy of Amplify Cayman)

(CNS): According to the unaudited Third Quarter Economic Report 2023 covering government earnings and spending up to the end of September, a significant boost to the surplus at the time came from fees on imported motor vehicles. The earnings surpassed budget expectations by $7.8 million due to the volume of vehicles being imported.

While the Cayman Islands Government now restricts the age of imported used vehicles to a maximum of eight years old, there is no indication that this has had any impact on the number being brought into the islands.

When Cabinet approved the restriction, which hit the lowest-paid the hardest, then-premier Wayne Panton said it would help slow down the number of older cars being imported. In the five-year period 2018-2022, almost 24,000 vehicles were imported into the country, more than 63% of which were more than eleven years old.

“These older vehicles are often cheaper to purchase, but they are harder to maintain and will drive higher demand for replacement vehicles. These older vehicles end up abandoned and left for government to dispose of,” Panton said at the time.

According to the ESO statistics on imports, there was a 9.6% increase in car imports in the first six months of 2023 over the previous year. However, the figure still rose by 2% over the same period in 2022 in the third quarter report, which covers the first full three-month period when the limit was in effect.

Some of those vehicles might have been over the age limit, as the importation of those already en route or at least bought and paid for before 1 May, when the age ban restriction was implemented, was still allowed. However, if the restriction had worked as intended, the number of car imports would have begun to decline across this period.

While Cabinet has seen the unaudited financial report for the full year, it has not yet been made public, so it is not yet known if the number of vehicle imports rose or fell during the last three months of the year, when very few of them would have been older than eight years. The full 2023 report will give a better indication of whether or not the change to the rule has had any impact on importation and, in time, the volume of traffic on the roads.

At the time of its implementation, the ban was criticised because it did not address the volume of traffic directly and impacted low-income workers, who need a car because of the poor standard of public transport and depend on the availability of older, cheaper cars.

Over the next two years, the CIG plans to spend more than CI$28.6 million on roads. However, it has only just begun developing a comprehensive national public transport plan, which means there will be little, if any, improvement to the current bus system for many more years.

The sheer volume of traffic on the roads is now constant and goes well beyond the usual commuter traffic gridlock. The congestion around town at lunchtime is now so bad that running errands before the lunch break is over is almost impossible, and Saturdays are becoming one long traffic queue across the whole of Grand Cayman.

A serious collision early Saturday morning involving two cars and two light poles on Shamrock Road in Beach Bay left drivers in tailbacks for the best part of the day after the road was closed. Four people were taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

CUC said the work required to replace the poles was extensive, and even though the crash happened before 6:00am, the roads were not fully opened until shortly before 10:00pm. A diversion via Will T. Road and Northward Road left cars inching their way through the district throughout the day and left hundreds without power.

While the police and CUC were criticised for poor traffic management, the problem was, as always, compounded by the sheer volume of traffic on the country’s roads.

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Category: Economy, Politics

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If I hit a light pole, I want it to be the one Duhwayne crashed into. No breath test required. Just phone a friend.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Increase the speed limit by 20% and you’ll reduce the amount of time cars are on the road. Also impose a minimum speed limit, again limiting time a car is on the road and causing unnecessary backups. Love the two side by side leisure drivers driving 10 MPH under the speed limit with 60 cars behind them. If this is you, enjoy your power trip but you are a mental case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lower the speed limit to 25 on Linford Pierson Road and have Police at various spots charging those who breach the limit. I drive there at 40 mph every morning between 6 am and 7 am and the crazy drivers cross me like I am parked… Police all asleep at that time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So freaking stupid. All of you. One day there will just be cars sitting still on every available roadway and street and no one can go anywhere. Control the ridiculous population numbers and STOP BRINGING IN CARS PERIOD.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exx-actly right.

      Who is the bad guy? Is it the lowly-paid expat who wants to buy a cheap car for use during the duration of their time here? No. Is it the used car dealerships — of which there are several — who bring in hundreds of cars from Japan to farm out? Well, yes, actually, partially, they ARE the bad guys, but not really because they are Caymanians, and that is what they have been training to do: Supply that which meets the demand.

      Is it the government that allows more construction which mandates more cheaply-paid expats to service it? Hmmmm. We might be getting closer to the answer. The same government which makes money from work permits, but none from employing Caymanians in the same positions.

      How about the rich foreign investor who gets concessions, but contributes zero to mitigate the increased load upon the infrastructure as a result of their boutique hotel? Ahhhh. Now we might be in the zone of blame.

  4. just saying says:

    Can’t stop stupid things done by stupid people. Cayman Islands government will only work on a problem when it becomes a problem for themselves personally. Then they will fix only their own problem. So just one of the many big problems on Cayman that will never be fixed by the acting(pretending) government. Soon CIGs personal debt will be on the books and Financial reality will hit hard. Look up the many places on Earth that were rich and now poor. Cayman Islands are lucky in that the UK will have to take over and then life is good for everyone but Caymanians until they repay the debt themselves. If you don’t see this coming then you are trying very hard not to.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Even Bangladesh has a light rail/monorail system:

    ‘When fortune favours Mozammel Hossain, it takes him around two hours to reach his office at Uttara’s House Building from his residence at Agargaon in the morning (11 miles, so similar to Bodden Town to Camana Bay). He spends another two hours on the way back in the evening. On the days he has no luck, which happens quite often, his time on the road stretches beyond four hours. …

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the first-ever electric public transport in Dhaka on Wednesday. And she will be the first to ride it.

    Travellers and commuters like Mozammel will be able to take metro trains from the next day. A metro train is expected to take 20 minutes to reach Uttara’s Diabari from Agargaon, meaning Mozammel will be able to save at least three hours a day.

    More than 50 countries across the world provide metro rail services. China alone has 46 metro systems, while the US and India have 15 each. Now Bangladesh is going to join the metro club.

    “Now I won’t be reaching the office with a dishevelled look; or returning home in a grumpy mood. I’ll be able to spend more time with my family. This is something we can’t buy with money.” – Mozammel Hossain, a resident of Agargaon whose office is in Uttara’ – December 2022.

    • Donald Duck says:

      Electric Trains require a tremendous amount of electricity to run. Those countries have the luxury to be on a national electric grid. Cayman does not have or will ever have the capacity to run a train system like that, not to mention the cost to implement and maintain that kind of system.

  6. anon says:

    How many new vehicles were purchased by Govt and it’s 17 SAGC’s in the last year?.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry, Kenny electric buses soon come.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wayne…please don’t negotiate with your wife about running for the next election. Don’t let CMR fool you. You are to blame for this rowdy and incompetent bunch that is ruining these islands. This also goes for Heather.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually no, the voters are responsible for the complete lack of competence among the majority of elected MLA’s. Wayne did his best to put together a government that would benefit the people of Cayman but others don’t have the same objective.

  9. John says:

    Let’s start with the easy, cheap stuff. Require our existing buses to drive their entire published route as a condition of their license.
    Then ensure the buses run in the evening till midnight and at weekends. Since the buses are privately owned and you don’t want one person driving 16 hours per day, 7 days a week there will need to be extra drivers employed by them.

  10. Ironside says:

    What is needed, and there’s no more debating about it, we need a Proper public transportation system, ASAP.

    If no alternatives such as a Proper public transportation system or perhaps car pooling policies, maybe even staggered work times, if some or all of these are not implemented while the new highway+roads upgrading is being built, then these new roadways will only maintain the status quo of trying to keep up with the ever increasing car usage.*

    It won’t change a thing in the traffic congestion we have today, I’m betting it will exacerbate it.

    Let’s talk more about what a viable, affordable and round-the-clock public transportation system, no debate needed, it’s what must be done to help curtail the ever increasing demand of high car ownership = long, more frequent traffic congestions. All past governments are to be blamed, going back at least 20 years.

    *The sarcastic side of me thinks the – political roads department folks- will keep telling us and themselves; ‘Just one more lane, guys. Trust me, it’s gonna work this time for real!😒’ 💰💵

  11. Anonymous says:

    Public transport aka proper, scheduled, frequent and tracked busses not 3rd world vans. Dear god it’s not hard, it could hardly be any easier. Charge cat drivers an annual public transport fee and you could easily even make it free.

  12. Elvis says:

    More interested in collecting duty and making money on work permits than their island or people. Simple fact

  13. Anonymous says:

    Therefore more roads are not the answer. Stop destroying our environment and laying concrete and asphalt over what’s left. Reduce work permits and leave something for the next generation. It’s non stop with the development of the country.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Of course there’s more cars. There’s more people and still no public transit and biking is taking your life in your hands. Nothing is walkable. So of course more cars. And thanks to the morons that run cig they are now double the price.

    Older cars are absolutely NOT more expensive to maintain if they’re the right car. Old Range Rover of course. But an old Honda or Toyota will run forever with minimal costs.

    With all the complaining about remittances…where exactly do you think money ends up when everyone in the country needs to buy a seven year old car or newer. That cash isn’t staying in our borders.

    That decision was when I lost what little respect was left for Wayne and crew.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, and trying to claim that a 10 year old Honda Fit/Nissan Note/Toyota Passo with their 990 cc engine, is more polluting than a brand new Detroit 6 cylinder gas guzzling behemoth, is complete bumkin.

      Furtehr, CIG also said that they were tring to reduce congestion on the roads but yet continued to allow the importation and sale of huge diesel/gas guzzler pick-up trucks and SUVs by the “Cayman Car-tel” members. These huge trucks take up to 3 times the road space of any of the afore mentioned hatchbacks.

      Lastly, they said it was for safety – and yet again, they speak with forked-tongue as they continue to allow the importation of US market cars made for driving on the right-hand of the road, on to an island that is designed and built for cars that drive on the left-hand side of the road.

      The “restriction” was a ploy to halt competition and maintain the big auto dealers’ monopoly on-island, plain and simple. Full Stop.

      “Green, safety and anti-congestion”, my foot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Vision 2008

  16. Lo-cal says:

    All I am asking for is that NRA PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, put a roundabout at the end of the Newlands Bypass and where Hirst Rd meets Shamrock Rd.

    There is one everywhere else.

    Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      We do not need any more roundabouts leading no where! This is a big contributor to the traffic problem. Multiple route leading to the same congested road. We need less not more!

      • Anonymous says:

        actually it’s drivers who don’t know how to use roundabouts who are the problem, such as:

        – driving onto the roundabout when it’s already full and blocking all exits/entrances in the process
        – refusing to give way according to the road code
        – driving in the left lane with the intention of turning right, and driving on the inside lane with the intention to exit left
        – etc.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t they just replacements for the Honda Fits that crashed in the previous quarter?

  18. Anonymous says:

    No big surprise, our successive government chiefs have only been concerned with provisioning for their own pockets. Infrastructure, especially transportation has always taken a backseat except for the year leading up to an election. Then come the knee jerk, frantic, ad hoc, half baked, poorly implemented road building, and now pedestrianisation plans in our capital. Our fast degrading traffic congestion situation is becoming increasingly reminiscent of our solid waste situation. Our dump can’t take anymore and so can’t we on our clogged roads.

    Why do our village idiot leaders look to reinvent the wheel with regard to transport? Bermuda has benefited from vehicle import restrictions and Barbados has recently upgraded their bus fleet, albeit they still have private buses running minor routes. Tell me Mr. Bryan didn’t generate the CAL route just to make frequent free trips to look into their bus system? Furthermore hiring a consultant to produce a report stating the obvious and recommending solutions they’ll flat out never implement is fiddling and squander of public funds, it does not equate to effectively managing the problem.

    The writing about what we are seeing now has been on the wall for decades, why no provisioning for a transport plan until now? We all know the geniuses that conceived the idea for increasing population growth but failed to fast track a national transportation plan in consort with that growth and will these same geniuses get elected next year? Most definitely! Instead these idiots languish and continue to be as hooked on vehicle import duty revenue as an opiate addict is to Oxy. It’s the same old story with our successive governments, get the cart first and the horse will come later. Pretty soon riding into town on a donkey will be faster, in which case we’d better make Jon Jon transport minister.

    The trifecta of increasing vehicle volume, absence of a proper national transportation system and increasing bad driving and traffic collisions puts us in a precarious place. We now endure the costs of CIG delinquency, grid lock events will soon be the new normal even outside of rush hour all it takes is a fender bender on any arterial route. But wait, all is not lost, our leaders will come to the rescue and deliver us from fuel price fixing so our 3 hour round trip commute will hurt a little less. Riiiiight!

    • Anonymous says:

      The adhocracy will continue until morale improves.

      Or we kick out the absolute cretins in power. Which we can’t because unfortunately the vast majority of people on island can’t actually vote on anything that actually impacts them.

      I can vote but I’m outnumbered by the 2003 Caymanians. The gigs up. Goodnight Argentina.

  19. Anonymous says:

    God awful traffic management thanks to RCIPS. Par for the course with the keystone cops.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Build the North Sound causeway!

    • Anonymous says:

      Only sensible comment here. Florida keys works fine. Cayman? Stick the airport in the middle of prime island land. Can’t build a bridge across a tiny sliver of shallow sea in the sound to fix half our problems.

  21. Anonymous says:


    Sorry I know you hate caps but have to express annoyance without cursing. This would solve the Saturday madness at least.

    • Anonymous says:

      and Monday evening madness

    • Anonymous says:

      Then the small convenience shop owner, who is also a “woter” along with other family members, will lose income as I’d rather go to the supermarket on a Sunday than pay the marked-up price at the convenience store. All of a sudden the convenience store is not as convenient. Let’s see which minister has the testicular fortitude to do such a thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are referring to McRuss, Shop Right, Chisholm’s, etc., etc., these are fine establishments with competitive pricing with the big 3 supermarkets and relatively the same staples.

        The hours are very convenient too.

  22. Anonymous says:

    With hindsight we can see this was a poor decision, punishing the most vulnerable in our society. It had nothing to do with consumers, or sustainability mission, and was put together to pander to local auto dealers. Those dealers, who couldn’t even get their hundreds of new cars here from Kingston Port because the transport was offline. CIG (the people of Cayman) had to charter a supplemental boat to get the backlog here.

  23. Dan P says:

    To my understanding – because it is explicitly legal to in the UK and Cayman’s traffic law doesn’t mention it – the lads on the motorcycles who filter through the middle in the morning gridlock have me super jealous.

    I don’t have the balls to ride, but I move over for them. That’s one less truck in front of me trying to merge.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you! That’s why we do it! More bikes, less cars.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you. There are a few who don’t move over and occasionally appear to be deliberately blocking my forward progress. However, upon reaching the driver who is straying out of his/her lane I usually find the reason is they were too busy texting to stay in their lane, and were completely oblivious to the approaching motorcycle.

  24. watcher says:

    Our overbuilding/import-more-low-paid-expats model is not working. Well, to be accurate, it is working just fine for CIG’s coffers. It is not working at ALL for Caymanians. This model has caused a choking of our roads and highways and has placed housing out of reach for all but the wealthiest of Caymanians.

    To help Caymanians, we need bike lanes and reliable and comfortable public transportation. That is just the tip of our needs. Those are the things upon which we want our money spent. Sadly, that will do little for government funding.

    MPs are not to blame; they are utilising the only model that they know. They believe they are doing the best for all of us, that these huge capital projects will somehow trickle down to the least of us; as long as the NAU is still being funded, what else are they expected to do for us? From their perspective, we doth protest too much (theythinks).

    I will take such as massive change in our paradigm to actually benefit all the people, that I’m doubtful it can happen; so much easier to follow all the rest of the cities of the world as we circle the drain. Still, I remain hopeful. Someday change will come. I have faith.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, I think you’ll be pushing up the daisies before any change happens with that attitude. Then again with this bunch in cabinet you might just have a point since prayer, scripture recital and possibly so speaking in tongues might solve the problem. On the same note, to show their commitment to our traffic problem I’d like to see all our cabinet members ride a donkey into town on Easter Sunday.

  25. Anonymous says:

    With successive Governments’ head-in-the-sand policy regarding diversifying our economy, they continue to rely in the same cash cows, including vehicle imports and selling work permits. As long as Gov’t depends heavily on these revenues, traffic will increase and Caymanians will get bypassed for jobs!

    Morons in charge! Disgusting!

  26. Anonymous says:

    minimizing imports of cars is NOT the answer. Minimize the amount of people and that’s going to help. One can only still drive one car at a time. I have 4, but haven’t learnt to drive them all at the same time as yet

  27. Anonymous says:

    as long as we are importing a huge volume of people nothing will change zzzzzz!

  28. Anonymous says:

    These reports cost a lot just to sit and collect dust. I pray next election we can vote them all out starting with the minister responsible for our roads.


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