Spotts signing planned for autumn
Government hopes to sign a comprehensive late-autumn agreement with infrastructure giant China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to develop cruse-ship berths in George Town, Spotts Landing and the Cayman Turtle Farm.
Answering a question in the Legislative Assembly from the opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), Premier McKeeva Bush said in May he had signed an MOU with the Beijing-based company, and now looked forward to a final pact in two months.
PPM leader Alden McLaughlin, stated “The Premier,” signed an MOU with CHEC, indicating an arrangement to build cruise-ship berths, and something in West Bay and Spotts.” He then asked “Is the MOU still operational or have we moved on yet again?”
Mr Bush had initially said reconstruction of the single Spotts Landing jetty, used by cruise ships when inclement weather disrupts the George Town anchorage, would start at the end of July.
The company advanced $3 million to the government for the project, which was, however, delayed until at least November. Little explanation was offered for the delay, however, although Planning Department officials said they had not seen, much less approved, any blueprints for the redevelopment.
“Things have moved on since 2004,” Mr Bush answered, referring to a series of companies scheduled, at various times, to build the berths.
“We signed with Meisner to build the dock,” he said, naming Florida’s Meisner Marine, which ultimately helped build George Town’s Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
“Then there was Atlantic Star,” he said, a local construction company operated by Saudi-Caymanian Farhad al Rashid, who agreed in 2009 with PPM Tourism Minister Charles Clifford to build two cruse berths on the Royal Watler site.
“And still we have no dock, and still we are trying,” Mr Bush said, indicating blame for the delays lay with the previous PPM administration. “Meanwhile the cruise ships went to Honduras, Jamaica and other places.
“Now we have an MOU in place until November,” he said.
“What happened was that we looked at Spotts, which is an atrocious facility, and the cruise industry pulled out because of Spotts, where, for example, the elderly have to move up and down,” the Premier said.
“The new one will be an improved facility, and is projected to cost $6 million or $7 million or $8 million. CHEC said it would advance some of that and build out to $3 million. If we reach agreement, we will pay back what was spent – up to $3 million,” he said.
The money spent was likely to generate a local economic impact of $12 million in goods, services and other activity, “a multiplier effect that is about four times greater than the expense,” Mr Bush told the House.
He denounced critics who had asked about the multi-million-dollar advance.
“The opposition complained and the Auditor General asked if there were $3 million in the account,” he said. “I am sick and tired of this, and I told CHEC not to move forward [on anything] until the definitive agreement was signed. – which should be signed by November.”