June 19, 2019

The Editor Speaks: Blinkered

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Horses wear blinkers to keep the horse focused on the path ahead of him/her and limit his/her peripheral vision to avoid distractions.

This would also seem to apply to our politicians when it comes to the Cruise Ship Piers and what side of the fence you are on.

Everyone wants to know the names of the three bidders for the project, but strangely government will not announce the identity of them.

At the public meeting on the cruise ship piers proposal officials said to do so would compromise the process and break their own rules.

There own rules? Excuse me? Government make up their own rules? Governments consistently only do that to hide something they know will be unpopular if it is revealed. Or worse……

, from Public Works, said it was against government’s procurement protocols to reveal information before a bid process was complete. Stran Bodden, Chief officer in the Ministry of Tourism, said, “We have to protect the integrity of the bid process – the bidders that have come forward have entrusted their confidence to us.”

What utter nonsense!

This stupidness made many people present at the meeting or watching it live on television, very angry, including myself. As a retired Quantity Surveyor, who practiced here in the for many years, I have never heard of any rules not to name the bidders, even on government contracts. What integrity would be slighted if the bidders were named?

On the Irie FM website it says:

“Verdant Isle Port Partners is not being as tight-lipped about its desire to take on the cruise berthing facility project. According to NNP Capital Partners’ website, it is backing Verdant Isle, and described it as a joint venture between the Robert McAlpine Group and the Orion Marine Group. The website said Verdant Isle is hoping to deliver the port upgrade via a $240 million US design, build, finance, maintain arrangement. That works out to roughly $200 million in CI dollars”.

When asked if government would say categorically if the notorious China Harbour Engineering group was one of the bidders, officials would not say either way. I think we know the answer to that. If they had said ‘No” it would not have been detrimental to the protection of “the bid process”. Can you imagine the uproar if the answer was ‘yes’?

That was a very blinkered response dear Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell. You have steered yourself into the hands of the opposition to the piers.

Next we have the chief opponent to the project, Leader of the Opposition, Ezzard Miller, who still claims there is “no evidence” that cruise ships will ever stop coming here to anchor and be tendered.

I have to ask him where is your evidence to support that?

The evidence I have heard very clearly says the opposite. Please see our story today “Cruise lines issue warning to Grand Cayman”.

Quotes from the above article:

“During a public hearing held last week, Miguel Reyna, director of port business development for , painted a picture which had to send chills down the spine of anyone on the island who relies on cruise tourism. “Our projections,” the Cayman Compass reported him telling those gathered, “are that within the next five years, our [Grand Cayman] traffic may drop from 450,000 passengers to potentially 250,000 passengers.”

“The main reason for the drop? Oasis-class ships being moved to the western Caribbean routes even as older, smaller Freedom-class ships are phased out. “We don’t bring the Oasis-class ships to the Cayman Islands, and Royal Caribbean has no plans to tender the Oasis in any port.”

, the vice president, Global Port & Destination Development for Carnival Corporation, echoed his colleague’s sentiment. Addressing the fact that Carnival has an ever-increasing fleet of megaships, he admitted that when looking at future itineraries, ships such as the Horizon, Vista and upcoming Panorama “are not being considered [for] ports that don’t have berthing facilities.”

“Accused by some in the public hearing of “bullying” and “threatening” the island, Candib said that he was simply presenting the realities of the current business environment, adding that the cruise lines obviously had a vested interest in working with destinations toward a mutually beneficial outcome.”

End.

I would have to say Miller must be wearing ear muffs as well as blinkers!!

Even the credit rating agency Moody’s noted that “the potential [Grand Cayman] cruise terminal project” as well as other projects could “boost grown and help diversify the economic base” in the future.

Unfortunately, if one is blinkered the only way forward is to go straight on. Even to destruction. Both sides of the fence seem to want to do that.

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