November 29, 2020

Cruise berth WILL happen, says Bush

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Premier McKeeva Bush predicted yesterday that Cayman’s first cruise berth would be ready by March 2013, while a final agreement with Dart Realty would come before the end of this month.

“We will have the first jetty by March 2013,” he told iNews Cayman, although he did not specify whether the facility would be part of the main George Town berthing complex or the foul-weather pier at Spotts Landing.

Work on the $3 million Spotts facility had originally been set to start in late July, but was pushed back to November, then delayed until final signatures on the wider China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) agreement.

“We will get it,” Mr Bush said, answering fears that last week’s announcement of a four-month postponement in the CHEC pact, could mean no cruise berthing would be available until at least September 2013.

Already Cayman’s cruise arrivals last month reached an all-time low of 48,600, largely due to the lack of berthing for passenger ships.

Mr Bush’s prediction of a March date puts the opening only 60 days prior to Cayman’s next general election, which PPM leader Alden McLaughlin told iNews Cayman earlier this week he expected to win.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure we are getting value-for-money,” Mr Bush said, referring to both the CHEC and the Dart-government ForCayman Investment Alliance contracts.

Earlier this week, Dart Realty Managing Director Jim Lammers told iNews Cayman that a final alliance agreement had, like the CHEC deal, been put back indefinitely.

However, Mr Bush said he looked forward to signing within weeks.

“I’m not sure, but I am hoping in the next two weeks to three weeks,” he said. “We are working on the agreement. Cayman needs the alliance and Cayman needs the Dart input and investment.

“We are getting there, making sure about what we are getting and what we have to do. We are dotting our ‘i’s and crossing our ‘t’s, and putting it under a value-for-money study, trying to move ahead as quickly as possible”

Mr Bush last week signed London’s Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, responding to Foreign and Commonwealth Office demands for better financial management. The framework’s immediate effect was the CHEC delay pending a cost-benefit analysis by accountants KPMG.

“There is no tendering process for Dart,” Mr Bush said. “We are not buying anything from them, so no procurement is involved,” meaning demands by both London and Cayman’s Auditor General for transparent tendering were not at issue.

Among the details still being discussed by the alliance, he said, was an urgent $2.5 million mortgage facility.

“I am hoping to get agreement on the mortgage-assistance programme for people who are losing their homes,” the premier said. “We have 300 families that could benefit from that. We don’t want people to lose their homes when some of them have, say, only about $10,000 left to pay. With the world economy collapsing, we want to do whatever we can, and that is part of the Dart agreement.”

Mr Bush commented briefly on opposition to both the closure of 2,500 feet of West Bay Road and efforts to stop relocation of the George Town Landfill to Bodden Town.

“Alice Mae Coe,” he said, leader of the West Bay dissent, scheduled to present a petition to Governor Duncan Taylor next week, “is misleading people. She is making them believe that all of West Bay Road is to be closed.

”The Bodden Town people have a right to say what they want and a right to start a petition, but this country has to move ahead. It has to go ahead for the good of everybody, and we all have to cooperate,” he said.

Finally, Mr Bush said, his defamation suit against Hurley’s morning “Crosstalk” radio show, Cayman News Service and Rooster caller Daphne Orrett was proceeding.

“It’s going ahead and I may add some others to it on the radio,” he said, taking aim at North Side independent legislator Ezzard Miller.

“Ezzard thinks he can’t be sued. He will see,” Mr Bush said.

 

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