November 21, 2019

The Editor speaks: The new and improved plans for the GT port

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Colin Wilson

We received yesterday (Wed 16) a Government Press Release (PR) that unveiled the new and improved plans for the controversial George Town port.

This is after our Premier, Alden McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass (his ‘happy’ news outlet) we would not get much new information until after the Referendum.

After informing us that the new plans would be available on the preferred bidder consortium, Verdant Isle website, I found nothing new there at all. Now all the new plans are posted on the government’s port project website.

The consortium’s President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Michael Bayley, said in the PR there had been continual improvement and our premier said his government had been listening to the people. That’s nice. I thought that was one of the reasons the government were elected.

Bayley said, “Since the announcement of Verdant Isle as preferred bidder we have been working with the Cayman Islands Government, and in particular the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, to adjust and refine our submitted plans to better fit their specific requirements.”

So what are these improvements?

An increase of over 5% in the total cruise facility.

A 27% increase in the cargo area.

The marine excavation volume cut by 31.3%.

The piers have been narrowed from 25 metres down to 22 metres.

There will be no dumping into the sea of materials from the excavation for the upland reclamation.

All that sounds good and but will have absolutely no bearing on the vociferous opposition group to the project who are behind the Referendum.

The reefs are still going to be moved. How successful that will be is whoever you believe, although there would seem to be evidence that reefs do come back to life. This is after many marine biologists predicted they wouldn’t. Now there is even studies saying 3D printing of reefs MAY save them.

Why on earth the Port Authority were left out of the negotiations and planning, when they are very much a player in the project, is a real mystery?

However, Acting Port Director Joseph Wood, seemed upbeat about the new plans.

He said, “The addition of a longer and wider pier makes it possible for the Port Authority to upgrade its cargo handling equipment to serve larger cargo vessels more efficiently….The new design also makes it possible to handle more than the two ships simultaneously”.

No matter what the government does regarding this project to improve it. the ‘NO’s will remain the same and will shout even louder against it going ahead.

That is the only really true fact in all of this Editorial.

This Editorial is new but definitely not improved.

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