Archive for July 21st, 2010

Local contractor bankrupt

| 21/07/2010 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Following more than four decades building in the Cayman Islands, general contractor Hadsphaltic Ltd has been forced to close down after its parent company went into voluntary liquidation. Liquidators are now dealing with the local construction firm responsible for a number of well known locations in Grand Cayman, from the West Wind Building on the West Bay Road to Papagallo Restaurant (left) near Barkers. Chris Johnson and Russell Smith of Johnson Smith Associates Ltd, local insolvency practitioners, have now been appointed as the liquidators in Cayman and they are currently investigating the firm’s assets as well as examining creditors’ claims and dealing with local staff.

The firm employed around 22 people in the Cayman Islands who have now been released from their jobs and the landlord has also locked the doors at the firm’s offices in the Marquee Plaza.
Hadsphaltic was working on the Mosquito Control and Research Unit’s new hanger at Owen Roberts International Airport and a large private residence at Vista del Mar but had recently stopped work at both sites. The Caymanian Compass reported last week that the firm’s parent company, Johnston International in Turks and Caicos, had said this was a temporary situation while the company underwent some reorganisation. However, it is now apparent that the local firm will not be returning to the site and that the company is insolvent.
Chris Johnson says that the liquidators will be selling all the plant and equipment as well as realising other assets owned by the company.
“We are now interested in hearing from anyone wanting to buy the heavy equipment to help us raise funds to pay creditors,” Johnson told CNS. “We are also keen to hear from anyone who has a claim against the firm, including workers or contractors who have not been paid or that have outstanding claims.”
Johnson also said that early investigations have revealed that Hadsphaltic is owed a large amount of money by a local developer as well as a considerable amount of money by its parent company and if it these can be realized, together with the sale of the fixed assets, the liquidators may be able to pay local creditors most of what they are owed. However, he stated that this would be highly unlikely and creditors should not be optimistic, primarily because he felt thatany recovery from the parent would be minimal.
To make matter worse, according to the Turks & Caicos Weekly News workers there are owed as much as $2.5 million in wages, bonuses and benefits.
The problems started for Hadsphaltic a few weeks ago when Johnston International was placed into receivership by British Caribbean Bank Ltd in Turks and Caicos.
According to local media reports, the Turks and Caicos firm built former Premier Michael Misick’s multi-million dollar home and was involved in a controversial hospital project at $124 million in which only two 30 bed hospitals were ever completed. The firm was also embroiled in an environmental controversy regarding significant reef damage on the islands as a result of what was said to be illegal dredging. It is also believed that staff in T&C were given no warning that the firm was in any real financial trouble.
Hadsphaltic, which began operating in the Cayman Islands in 1966, and was owned by a British family until it and the group of companies were sold to the billionaire peer Lord Michael Ashcroft, who then sold the firm in a management buyout. The bank that lent the money to the group to purchase the firm was British Caribbean Bank Ltd, which was also owned by Ashcroft.

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Cops arrest West Bay robber

| 21/07/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Police have now confirmed that they have arrested one man in connection with an armed daylight robbery of a West Bay store on Wednesday morning (21 July) At about 11.40 am a man armed with what appeared to be a handgun entered the premises of a shop known as Shoes Best Repair and Variety Store in Fountain Road, West Bay. The man threatened staff before fleeing the scene with a small sum of cash. He was last seen running south on Fountain Road. Police immediately attended the scene and following a search of the area a 23-year-old man was arrested in Foremast Close on suspicion of robbery. (Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

Police said that one man is now in custody while enquiries into the incident in which no shots were fired and no-one was injured continue. Police have not said if the man was found in possession of either a real or imitation firearm.
“The suspect is described as having a white complexion and was wearing sports shorts and a white and brown coloured shirt,” Detective Constable Howard Campbell said. “I would ask anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and witnessed the robbery, or the armed man running from the scene, to contact me at West Bay police station on 949-3999,” he added.
Meanwhile, Value-med Pharmacy on Walkers Road close to the Cayman Islands hospital was broken into during the early hours of this morning (21 July). Police confirmed that they had received a report of the break in at around 4.40 but enquiries were continuing and officers were unable to reveal what had been taken.
Information about these or any other local crimes can be passed via the confidential Crime Stoppers tip-line 800-8477 (TIPS).

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School plans change again

| 21/07/2010 | 36 Comments

(CNS): Government says it now plans to re-tender the construction management job at the two new high school sites following it s decision to phase the schools’ completion in order to save cash. The Ministry of Education said on Wednesday that construction at the Clifton Hunter and John Gray sites will continue where possible, under the supervision of the Ministry’s project team with additional support until the new tender process is complete. Rolston Anglin stated that the new construction management tender will reflect the changes and government’s decision to phase the projects over a longer period and will be re-advertised shortly.

The need to slow down and phase the projects was announced during the budget presentation last month, in the Legislative Assembly as a result of government’s operational costs, limits on further borrowing and its intended spending plans in the 2010/11 year.
“The phasing of the high school projects has changed the scope of the original tender for construction management services, hence the need to re-tender,” Anglin explained. He also said the planned demolition at John Gray High School will also be delayed as the ministry has to balance this with the demands of the construction schedule and the educational needs of the teaching staff and students.
“Given the importance of the latter, it has been concluded that the next stage of the demolition should be delayed until summer 2011. As a result, the initial focus of the work at the new JohnGrayHigh School will be on particular buildings, which educators have prioritised. This will be reflected in the new tender,” the education minister said in an official statement from GIS.
Construction will continue during the interim and tenders for packages of work at the sites have also recently been advertised and more will shortly follow, Anglin revealed. “This new work should provide a boost to the local economy and new opportunities for employment.” Minister Anglin stated adding that the summer vacation would provide a window of opportunity to progress construction and limit the impact on the educational environment for the coming school year. 
Tenders for firms laying concrete have already been advertised and contractors have until 5 August to respond which will create some new jobs although others will be lost. Caribbean Mechanical one of the firms that has been doing some limited work at the sites says it has now readjusted its work force downwards as a result of the slowing down of the overall projects but confirmedthat it has been working in conjunction with the ministry over the new plans.
Following wide speculation that government intended to completely slow down or even ‘mothball’ the projects Anglin said, “…government remains committed to the completion of both schools …with the CliftonHunterHigh School scheduled to be finished first”.
During the recent tender process the Central Tender’s Committee had held off awarding a contract to a project manager even though the details of the bids had been leaked. The documents revealed that of the local and international firms bidding for the work the best value bid according to the initial criteria was Hensel Phelps Construction which is based in Colorado with a bid of $6.5 million. The consortium of local companies that included McAlpine, Dart, and the now bankrupt Hadsphaltic submitted a bid totalling $8.5million for the same job.
Government officials say that to date around $70 million has been spent on the two schools which were originally meant to cost around $110 million to complete. A further $17 million in add-ons and change orders currently remains in dispute following the departure of the original general contractor Tom Jones International Ltd which walked off both job sites in November, last year.
TJI Ltd said government did not have the money to fund the projects and filed a civil suit against it claiming $2.9 million in overdue payments. Government then terminated the contract resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs on the sites.
The government has raised the possibility of finding a public private partner to help finance the two projects which is now expected to cost considerably more than the original bids, but has not yet made any officials comment on a possible investor.

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$2million road upgrades begin on Brac

| 21/07/2010 | 26 Comments

(CNS): With the recent acquisition of an asphalt plant and heavy equipment on Cayman Brac, as well as an allocation of over $2million in the 2010/11 budget for the Sister Islands’ roads, a new resurfacing project is now underway on Cayman Brac. Major road upgrading has now begun and a one-mile stretch of Spot Bay Road has already been resurfaced, with another mile underway. Government said that it has been around three decades since the Brac’sroads have been properly upgraded. Launching the roads project last month, Minister for District Administration Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said it was a momentous day for her constituency.

“Our roads were in dire need and even in this stringent economy, this government managed to find the funds to improve safety and beautify the island,’ she said. “An upgraded road infrastructure supports sectors such as tourism and agriculture.  By improving the road network now, we are positioning the Sister Islands to make a greater impact on the country’s economic growth.

O’Connor-Connolly applauded the Brac’s Public Works Department crew for their diligence in setting up the asphalt plant and getting the programme started and thanked the National Roads Authority for their assistance with personnel and special heavy equipment.

While general road maintenance is conducted by the Brac PWD, this first major road resurfacing project will ultimately impact much of Cayman Brac’s road network government officials said.

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Hit and run victims appeal for driver to come forward

| 21/07/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The two female victims of a hit and run driver are appealing for whoever knocked them down last week to hand themselves in. Police say they are still hunting for the driver of a silver car with a spoiler on the bumper which is believed to have left the scene after hitting the two women as they were out walking along Mount Pleasant Road on Wednesday 14 July. Joan Walters and Rose Marie Sanderson both suffered serious but not life threatening injuries following the incident. News 27 interviewed the women who are currently in the Cayman Islands Hospital who said they were laughing and joking only seconds before they were hit.

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Cayman keeps watch on dengue as regional cases rise

| 21/07/2010 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Although no new cases of dengue fever have been reported in Cayman since January of this year, public health officials say they are monitoring the regional situation. The fever is rising sharply in the Caribbean and the mosquito which can transmit the disease is present locally. There are no vaccines to prevent the fever and officials say the best prevention is avoiding mosquito bites. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said, “Although we had three confirmed cases reported in Januarythis year, there have been no other dengue cases reported since then and the Cayman Islands is still considered to be dengue free. However, especially with the regional outbreak in mind, we are not complacent and medical personnel are on high alert to look for any local cases.”

Currently dengue outbreaks are reported in a number of Caribbean countries as well as Honduras, Belize, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Dengue fever is caused by a virus, but a mosquito biting a person with dengue fever can spread the virus to another person,” Dr Kumar explained. “Hence persons, who develop symptoms within two to three weeks of having returned from countries with dengue cases, are advised to consult their physician.”

The symptoms of dengue are high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain, and rash. The incubation period (the time that the infection takes to develop before it shows symptoms) is usually four to seven days; but can be up to three weeks.

There is no vaccine or specific medication to treat dengue infection, and people travelling to known dengue endemic countries should take preventative measures such as using a repellent, wearing protective clothing, using air conditioning indoors or only opening screened windows and doors, and staying indoors during early dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

While there are no local cases of dengue fever, the dengue carrier – the Aedes aegyptii mosquito – is present in the Cayman Islands, making transmission of the disease possible.

The only real protective measure is avoiding mosquito bites,” Dr. Kumar added.

Upon report of a suspected dengue case the Public Health Department would immediately inform its partners in prevention and control the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) of the suspected case, and they would take measures as if it was a case of dengue fever and enhance their mosquito control measures around the residence of the case.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2648 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243. For advice on mosquito control measures contact the MRCU on 949-2557 or DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

Countries in region reporting cases of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever include Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia,Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.



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Black parents give birth to white baby

| 21/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Sun): The stunned black dad of a newborn, white, baby girl declared yesterday, "I’m sure she’s my kid … I just don’t know why she’s blonde."  British Nmachi Ihegboro has amazed genetics experts who say the little girl is not an albino. Dad Ben, 44, a customer services adviser, admitted: "We both just sat there after the birth staring at her." Mum Angela, 35, of Woolwich, South London, beamed as she said: "She’s beautiful – a miracle baby." Professor Bryan Sykes, head of Human Genetics at Oxford University and Britain’s leading expert, called the birth "extraordinary". He said while mixed race humans, the lighter variant of skin tone may come out in a child in Afro-Caribbean populations in Nigeria there is little mixing.

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Eco-cars wait for green light

| 21/07/2010 | 72 Comments

(CNS): It is three years this month since local car dealer John Felder began lobbying the government to allow electric cars on Cayman’s roads, and still the eco-friendly vehicles remain banned from public highways. However, government officials have said that amendments to the traffic law which include the necessary changes to permit the use of electric cars on some of Cayman’s roads are scheduled to come before the country’s legislators in September. Felder, who has already imported a number of different electric-powered cars, says the wait has been far too long but now more than ever with gas prices rising drivers should be given the option to choose electric. 

Felder of Cayman Automotive told CNS that July marked the third anniversary since he began lobbying for changes to the traffic and vehicle licensing laws to accommodate the cars, and this month he pointed out that electric vehicles appeared on the roads in Bermuda following changes made there to the law.

“With the recent increase in fuel duty and the impact that is likely to have, now more than ever Cayman drivers need to be free to use electric cars on local roads,” he added.

Felder already has a long waiting list of potential customers for his vehicles that want to buy and drive these eco-friendly, no-carbon, cost saving, vehicles.

Kearney Gomez, Chief Officer of the Ministry of District Administration, Communications and Public Works, told CNS that government was committed to the legislation and the necessary changes should form part of a comprehensive amendment of the traffic laws which will allow the cars on the road in and around George Town and along most of the West Bay Road.

After waiting so long, Felder said he is still hopeful that the legislation will pass this year and Cayman can eventual enjoy the benefits of what are modern and sophisticated vehicles. With cars being the number one polluter on island, Felder said if government is serious about going green it has to facilitate the use of these cars.

The speed of the Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) should no longer be an issue, Felder stated, as they will only be licensed to be used on roads with a 35 mph limit and the cars are as safe as any “gas guzzling” car.

The electric cars have numerous benefits, from reducing the islands’ reliance on oil, improving the air we breathe and cutting costs for motorists, to bringing in much needed duty for government coffers, as well as new licence fees. “I have tried to be patient and work with government on this and they have assured me it will be done,” Felder told CNS recently. “I still live in hope.”

The Cayman Islands could also be the first Caribbean country to introduce full solar panel charge stations, Felder explained, as one local firm has already committed to establishing the green systems for charging not only their own fleet of cars but those of other owners at the overnight specially designed solar stations. Felder hopes that once the cars are in use and the green vehicles take off, eventually there will be various speed charging stations at the supermarkets, where people can charge their electric cars as they shop.

Felder explained that all of the support systems are in place for charging and servicing but it was all on government now to make it happen. Costing as little as $2 a day to run, Felder said lots of people in Cayman are keen to own an NEV but obviously want to use their cars on the roads and not just on private sites as the existing customers, such as Camana Bay and Andros Group, currently do.

“We have people who want to use them around George Town for deliveries, among other things. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman we have clients who want to buy fleets to use as rental cars for visitors,” Felder explained, adding that the NEV fits really well with the promotion of eco-tourism on the Sister Islands.

Felder also paid tribute to the late Sonny Rhian of Little Cayman, who died last year and was the first person to bring a Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) to the Cayman Islands in 2004 but was never able to drive his car on the roads because of the failure of government to enact the legislation necessary. “I believe government should honour Mr Rhian’s memory when it finally introduces this legislation,” Felder said.

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No arrests in cop manhunt

| 21/07/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Police have said that no arrests were made on Tuesday following a full scale manhunt in the Windsor Park area of George Town during the afternoon. Although RCIPS officers from the K9 Unit, Uniform Support Group and the police helicopter team spent searching for allegedly armed suspects as a result of a drugs operation, no one has yet been apprehended. Police are believed to be looking for at least two suspects who fled the scene of an organised raid by the RCIPS. A number of specialist units were searching the bush area off Anthony Drive for several hours. (Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

Police from GT station told CNS on Tuesday night that they were unable to reveal any more details on the full scale police operation other than to confirm that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the operation.

CNS will continue in its efforts to communicate with the RCIPS in order to report details as and when they are released.




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Cops charge Anglin with indecent assualt & wounding

| 21/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have now confirmed that Chad Anglin (30), who was recently arrested after being on the run from law enforcement for almost three weeks, has been charged with indecent assault and wounding. The charges are in connection with what police had called a vicious attack which took place in West Bay last month when police officers from Uniform Support disturbed a man who was attacking a young woman in a car. The victim had already had her throat cut when the officers arrived on the scene and had sustained other serious injuries during the attack. The attacker escaped as the police turned their attention to the victim who was in need of life saving assistance.

However, following the attack police immediately launched a full scale manhunt for Anglin, whom they said was wanted in connection with the incident. His picture and details were released to the media and circulated across the islands. Anglin was finally arrested on 8 July in his home district of West Bay in connection with the attack, which took place in the early hours of 17 June on Garvin Road.


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