Port choice’couldn’t be worse’

| 12/02/2012

Cruise-Regional-Revenue1.jpg(CNS): The opposition leader has stated that if the government had deliberately searched the world over it could not have found a more inappropriate company to develop the cruise berthing facilities. Alden McLaughlin said it appeared that wherever China Harbour Engineering Company was working there seemed to be concerns of one kind or another. Despite his own belief that there is a pressing need for cruise berthing in the capital, he said that government really should reconsider this current proposal. Not only is CHEC the wrong company, the project has become much wider than had ever previously been intended and has turned into a financing deal that will in the long run be paid for by Cayman.

Given what he described as the “reputational issues” relating to the Beijing based firm, McLaughlin wondered what it was that had driven the government to select this company. "If the government had hunted every corner of the globe, I don't think they could have made a worse choice," he said.

The opposition leader also queried the decision of government to allow the project to double in size and cost because, he said, in the end Cayman would pay.  “CHEC is not going to mind about the extras, as the more we add on the more we are going to pay," he said. “This is a major financing deal and every penny will have to be paid back by the Cayman Islands Government with interest,” McLaughlin warned, adding that it was no surprise that the Chinese developers were happy to increase the project size.

According to the planning agenda for 1 February, the upgrade to the Spotts Jetty will cost a further $3.2 million on top of the approximate $200 million the George Town facility is now expected to cost.

The planning department has confirmed that planning permission was granted to the Port Authority to develop an open-sided tourist facility, including restrooms, waiting area and an information booth at Spotts, which will still be needed to offer tendering to ships in bad weather and for when the four berths in George Town are already full. The coastal works licence to construct the jetty will need to be approved by Cabinet and at the time of the planning application this had not yet been submitted.

The government has also stated that it wishes to develop another pier in West Bay across from the Cayman Turtle Farmbut a cost estimate for that project has not yet been revealed.

McLaughlin said the increase in the size of the George Town project plus the jetties at Spotts and West Bay were likely to offer a return to CHEC that the firm would not be able to get anywhere else, which was why it was more than happy to 'up the ante' on the overall size and scope of the deal, should government sign on the dotted line.

The need for cruise berthing in George Town was obvious, McLaughlin, stated but he had questions about these add-ons as well as the scale of the upland development that would accompany the berthing facilities in the capital.

The opposition leader also noted that the project, and in particular the government’s preferred partner on the deal, has never been through the central tendering process and that CHEC was not even on the original list of bids received by the Port Authority.  He said there was a lack of transparency all along, and although there was provision for a sole contractor, there was a process for that which needed to be followed.

Defending the choice made by the PPM administration, of which he was a part, to sign an MOU with Atlantic Star, he pointed out that in that case the developer owned the land that would have been involved in the upland element of the development, making it a unique case. He said that had the issue progressed beyond talks, there was provision in the Public Management and Finance Law for government to apply to the Central Tenders Committee to consider awarding to a specific developer under such circumstances.

Looking to the future, the opposition leader pointed out how difficult it would be to unravel the deal down the line if the CIG commits to the growing project. As was clear from the premier’s rejection of GLF construction (government’s second choice to develop the facility), even before a heads of agreement was signed there were significant consequences, namely the approximately $3.5 million settlement reached with GLF after it was rejected by the premier on the eve of signing a full deal, which will, it seems, be paid for from the public purse, McLaughlin noted.

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  1. Sunlight Please says:

    Solomon and his cronies plan 100,000.00 Square Feet of shopping space at new Port, at the present total Square foot of Ground floor retail space in George Town is under 70,000 Square feet. Please note the amount of For Rent now in George Town. It is stupid to build more retail space in Cayman, period.

    Do you wonder why we have a broken economy. Greed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Greed backed by stupidity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Greed, shortsightedness, quick buck, instant gratitification, and lining of personal pockets, anything else except what is best for the country.  That is our downfall.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where u get ya information from its not 100000 sg ft it’s less rumermongerer

  2. Yourstruly says:

    Chinese and Russion businesses are known to be the most corrupt in the world.

    When they get it on with CI govt. perhaps there will be no corruption at all.

  3. so Anonymous says:

    Given the many many total and partial failures of all the many different projects by both Caymanian run party's why in the world would you now expect that something, anything, would actually now get done?  If you can't learn from your past mistakes (And there is no indication that this will happen anytime soon) then you will just keep repeating them.  This will continue until there is no more money (to pay the bills not the king) and everyone is owed. One minus one really is zero.  Unless of course you were taught differently.  Then it looks like two but acts like minus two.  Right?

  4. Kadafe says:

    Don’t know who will agree but if we would have went with the original planner
    Atlantic star four years ago this would not be an issue right now as it would
    Have Been completed long time!! Just think those cruise liners wouldn be passing us everyday!
    Pls CIG just get it started huh!! Even dart would have had it at least half done by now!

  5. TheTruthWillOut says:

    I find it incredibly concerning that our Minister of Finance did not take the time to research the financing proposed by GLF. The very same type of financing has recently successfully financed major infrastructure projects for our competitors in the Bahamas($400 million airport redevelopment) and Trinidad($850 million Petrotrin). Citi won an award for the Bahamas project in 2009 and was #1 in project bonds globally in 2010. In other words, they know what they are doing and our Premier cost us the opportunity to establish a relationship with this institution that would have opened the door to a sound, legitimate source of infrastructure financing which would have exposed Cayman to many new investors.

    The GLF financing plan also involved Preferrential Berthing Agreements(PBA's) with the cruise lines which would have guaranteed cruise traffic for many years to come.

    CHEC says that they don't need PBA's, but in the same breath they say that they need 100,000+ sq ft of retail and 50 years because they are taking the risk that cruise lines may not want tocome here!WTF!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it that he didn't take the time to research?  Or is it that, with his limited intelligence he did not understand what he was looking at?


      • Anonymous says:

        XXXXX  Remember the very suspicious trip to Italy before the decision to dump GLF?  Did anyone believe it was so that our Premier with no engineering back ground could inspect a non-similar project? 

        PS: Always remember he has the support of his entire party in all of his dealings and therefore criticisms and praise (if any) belong equally to them.

      • Dred says:

        Or is it……well……something else…..huuummmmm

      • Anonymous says:

        McKeeva is a very smart man.


        Question his motives, not his intelligence.

      • Anonymous says:

        Never trust a man who reads a report upside down, and then declares an 18 million deficit to be an 81 million deficit. Or one who declares a surplus and then applies for an overdraft to cover it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Port choice count be worse or voters choice couldn’t be worse?

  7. Anonymous says:

    More of the same…lots of talk about new big projects…everybody complains about it…nothing happens…

    Welcome to Cayman!

  8. Anon 1.0 says:

    The title of the article should read: (Our) Government Choice: couldn't be worst, since it is THE worst.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I thought this project was supposed to be paid for by the developer and they were to make their money back from the Port Fees and concessions, not actually costing Cayman any out of pocket expenses. I personally hate the idea of bringing CHEC in to do this thing. But I think  Alden is playing scare tactic with all his accusations about Cayman paying for it. People raised holly hell about Dart doing this, but he would have probably had this thing darn near completed by now. People want to complain about the Dart folks and accuse him of being a ruthless businessman, but what has he done to negatively affect Cayman since he’s been here NOTHING, all I see is the beautiful developments he created that a lot of Caymanians enjoy, and as far as I know he’s the biggest employer of Caymanians on the island outside of the CIG, If was doing the port you could be sure that a lot of Caymanians would have gotten work that wouldn’t even have happened with GLF.

    Well you convinced the CIG to kick Dart to the curb, now look what happened. You jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. CHEC is going to turn GeorgeTown into ChinaTown..

    • BORN FREE says:

      Alden Mclaughlin it totally correct, any of the other proposed deals would have been far better for Cayman & the Cayman people than the CHEC deal. It is my opinion that the CHEC deal is all about what is best for a particular individual than what is best for the future of these islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Very good points,

      but you are accepting instant gratification and ignoring the long time pain that will surely come. when 1 or 2 people controll your destiny dog eat your suppa assuming there are suppa to be had.

      you supporters complain about high utility  bills,  what do you think will happen when a few people controll the majority of employment opportunities, they will set what you pay for everything, how much you earn, remember there will be very little compitation that can compete.          $5.00 an hour with a % of the tips will not cut it

      yes the majority of us enjoy going there, but can you afford purchase anything during visit.

      when the majority can only look on and middle class dwindle watch out,TROUBLE TROUBLE,

      IT'S already begun. 

      Lack of long term planning, immigration controlls and career guidance for students are killing us,                now we have to suck up to anyone that have a wallet with money.

      wa yasy,   think before u click LOL, & TD ya dont be selfish think country 1st. FIRST

      It's better to be safe with a dolla than to have to hide behind a broken bottle fence when you have $5

      • Anonymous says:

        So true.  Camana Bay might be beautiful, but how many ordinary locals can afford to either live there, eat there or shop there?  Even the damn movie tickets are too expensive, not to mention the cost of bottled water and popcorn !   What about the small merchants who have closed their shops because they can't compete with the resources of Dart?   When 1 or 2 people control the majority of business and wealth and property on this island, good luck to you trying to negotiate a pay raise and better benefits.   So you tell me who is really benefiting here.  The Rich, who keep getting richer at everyone else's expense !   Not the ordinary Caymanian !

  10. Kadafe says:

    What ever happened to the originally planned deal with Atlantic star?
    They seemed to have had it all planned out?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Said it before will say it again .. it doesn't matter who builds it and if they are any good or ripping Cayman off ..


    Cayman is killing itself by building this port. Cruise shippers and Cruiselines won't have any easier time when here. A tender ride is just as long as a walk from the end of the port .. so no change in customer experience except they all get a free boat ride.

    Extra shops on the dock .. well we have too many jewellery shops already .. let some build on the port and you put what we have out of business.


    Lest not forget the reef and bars along the waterfront. How many restaurants have gone under with the current port. And the dock will be on top of all the reef where 100's of guests go every week if not day during high season.


    You build this bigger cruise dock and you ruin the product that Cayman has to offer. You will loose more tourists than ever before .. and then you will loose all interest in the island and then where will Cayman be ?

  12. Anonymous says:

    When the weather turns bad and the cruise ships go to Spots who is going to operate the tenders? The operators at present are not going to have a group of expats on work permits hanging around on pay for the odd day that the cruise ships need a tender at Spots!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just realised now why we need a permanent dock at the Turtle Farm – to keep the tenders in business. Silly me for missing that one!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Opposition as a whole have a lot of explaining to do. They have not been fit for purpose.  Where have they been for the past months?

    Of course the expanded project is misguided and the West Bay work is unnecessary. A simple finger pier off George Town and fixing up Spotts is all that is necessary.

    Why does the Cayman government need to construct such grandoise projects.

    The Chamber of Commerce need to start talking to the government about the bloated pier construction project and the unnecessary retail/casino space. It is wrong.

    That said the Opposition is useless.

    • Anonymous says:

      How did this issue become about the Opposition? The Opposition is not in charge of running the country.

      • Anonymous says:

        The role of the opposition is to balance and temper the decisions made by the government in power.

        In the last government the UDP warned Alden about the schools expense and the size of the debt unfortunately to no avail.

        The role of the opposition is necessary and important and for the PPM to remain so quiet for so long hurts the process.

        It will hurt everyone if this China Harbor deal is wrong for the country and if a bloated grandoise plan is made that turns out to be another Boatswain's Beach.

        Pare down the plan to a pier only and fix up Spotts and draw a line there, this and crime should be the issues of the day not the road moving or the land fill.

        Speaking about crime where is Alden on crime?


        • Anonymous says:

          Where is Alden??…where he always is,….on the fence!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          The Opposition cannot "balance and temper" the decisions of the Govt. However unwise they may be the Govt. alone has the authority and responsibility to make decisions. Your focus should therefore be on the Govt.

          The Opposition's job is to hold govt. policy up to scrutiny and hold the govt. accountable. There was no "process" as such. Clearly, if the CHEC deal was done secretly with the Chinese there was nothing the Opposition could do about it except complain after the event which they are doing.    

          "Where is Alden on crime?".

          I strongly suspect he is against it. How about McKeeva?


      • Anonymous says:

        True, they are not running the government.  But they do have a job to do, beyond relaxing for 4 yrs and cashing their double dipping paychecks.

        • Anonymous says:

          Their job is scrutinise the government's actions and policies. They are doing that.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chamber of Commerce is also useless.

  14. anonymous says:

    Alden, please stop playing politrics and listening to Ezzard too much.

    Any company the size of CHEC will always have someone or some group upset with them. They aint no McAlpine or Arch & Godfrey now, you know. I can find similar info on the internet even about the UK and US governments. Poor angle of attach on this issue. Better try technical issues- more logical approach.

  15. Anonymous says:

    and let's not forget that the cruise business is down worldwide ~

    • anonymous says:

      most businesses are down worldwide. means nothing.

      • Anonymous says:

        it doesn't mean nothing.  It means that economic factors in play around the world will affect Cayman and must be factored into any plans.


    • Anonymous says:

      …and that travellers are avoiding itineraries that include Mexican ports

  16. so Anonymous says:

    Maybe when the best you can do is the worst anyone would do its time let someone else do it?

  17. anonymous says:

    Boring, boring, boring. The whole project, lets face it, is just not going to happen, no matter who is in charge.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean it's just another MOU MOU from father cow? Boy we certainly hope you're right.

  18. Anonymous says:

    That seems like Cayman's precident.  We hire Dart, we hire the Chinese….do I need to say anymore?

  19. Anonymous says:

     I thought Bush said GLF wont be paid off by the public purse?

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. nauticalone says:

    Agree with Alden here completely!

    Anyone who objectively studies the deal with GLF as opposed to CHEC (and lack of any sensible justification…or transparency) can only be left to "suspect" corruption.

    Even Mac's own hand-picked Port Board/CG determined GLF should have been approved to move forward with the project.

    • noname says:

      So where are the facts? How did this grow to double in size? $3.2M plus West Bay cannot double $200M. Talk, talk, talk, no truth or substance.

    • Anonymous says:

      To end all the "He said, She said", why not get Mr. GLF, Mr. CHEC, Mr. Glidden and Mr. Premier in the same room and ask the straight question(s)?

  22. Dred says:

    Alden grow some and do something. Stop the darn talking and start the darn doing. This is what is so pathetic about PPM they talk so darn much and do so darn little.

    Ezzard is putting together a group to go to the UK. You should not only be there you should be spearheading the trip. The last time I checked you were called "The Opposition". It darn time you started ACTING LIKE IT!!!

    Get up off your @#@ and do something for God's sake. As you said it's going to all but be too late if you allow this to happen. Scream from the top of the mountain NO.

    Sorry people just growing really tired of PPM talking and only Ezzard actually doing something. 

  23. Anonymous says:

    Mr. McLaughlin, Personally I think you need to keep yours and the PPM’s mouth shut… You and you party over spent during your term on everything putting this country into tremendous debt and to date financial problems. While you and others were in power you could be bothered to deal with this issue at all. Now that Mac is dealing with everything you didn’t you and the PPM just want to complain and play politics.

    I do not agree with everything that Mac is currently doing and didn’t vote for the UDP but we need solutions. All we can here from the PPM & Miller is complaining and trying to play politics. Let’s hear what you have to say.

    Personally we should go back to Dart, he is after all a Caymanian, the projects he does is first class, with no expense spared. Who cares if he has the jewelry stores and liquor stores sell to the visitors, the good news is that he employs, trains Caymanians.


    Like it or not Mr. Dart is Caymans philanthropist.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone who has read anything about Mr. Dart's history before he came to Cayman knows that he is no philanthropist. He is a shrewd ruthless businessman who looks for times of financial weaknesss to get a stranglehold on a country.  

      Seeing that you have only UDP propaganda to spout and attack everyone else it is not credible that you are not a UDP supporter. Yes, the PPM built schools and roads and started the Govt. Admin Bldg, all very much needed, because the previous UDP failed to do so. Yes, they spent too much on the schools but we really do not know what our current financial position is given that according to Mr. Bush it changes from surplus to deficit on a weekly basis and the claimed $81m deficit has never been audited and so we have no idea whether it is as reliable as Mr. Bush's other figures, i.e. not at all. 

      Mr. Bush is not dealing with anything. So far he has made a MoU with CHEC on significantly worse terms that the deal with GLF and cost us millions by breaching the agreement with GLF and pretended that it would not cost the public purse which has since been revealed to be false. If you recall the previous PPM Govt. had also signed an MoU with Atlantic Starr for a port.     

    • Knot S Smart says:

      I see that the Village Idiot is alive and well…

    • Anonymous says:

      First sentence, first paragraph: "Mr. McLaughlin, Personally I think you need to keep yours and the PPM’s mouth shut". Last sentence, second paragraph: "Let’s hear what you have to say". I'm sure you've already learned this, Alden but if not you certainly will before politics is finished with you: You cannot please all the people all the time. And this particular one is simply impossible to please. If you speak up, you're told to shut up, and if you shut up you're told to speak up. Continue to plug away for justice and transparency and progress for your country and your people regardless of it all, Alden, and thank you for all the good you have already been to this country. Just like a lot of the rest of the world, there is a full fledged war between good and evil taking place in our country. In the end good WILL prevail, Alden. You can count on that. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Excuse me? The role of the Opposition is not to keep their mouths shut. It is to scrutinise the actions and policies of the government and hold them to account. The fact that the PPM overspent during their tenure does not give the UDP free rein to do as they please during their term without challenge. That sort of twisted thinking is very dangerous for this country.

  24. Anonymous says:

    One of my greatest concerns is the planned 130,000 sq feet of retail space. Because the Government has kept its plans so close to its chest, it's difficult to discover whether this figure is accurate or not. If it is, then the amount of retail space in George Town will triple from the existing 65,000 sq.ft. to 195,000 sq.ft. Even a child would see a problem with this scenario.

    • anonymous says:

      I predict that the Kirks will be out of business within 3 years. Island Companies can always move to Camana Bay full time orDart can afford the short term loses from them but the Kirks are history.

      • Anonymous says:

        Haha, that may be true. However, I do not think we will see them begging for handouts on the streets of Cayman. They've earned their money and you can be guaranteed that much of it is being saved or has been reinvested in other profitable ventures both within and outside of the country.

  25. Anonymous says:

    What a nightmare we have for a government.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I don't particularly disagree with Mr McLaughlin's comments on CHEC but isn't this the pot called the proverbial kettle black?

    • Anonymous says:

      How exactly?

      • Anonymous says:

        Where do you want to start?

        Matrix maybe? The Villas of the Galleons and other re-leasings of Crown land? Operation Tempura? The Hyatt fiasco? The waste to energy project that never got started? The failure to promote real alternative energy options and electric vehicles? Boatswain's Beach? Rollover?

        OK, possibly nothing on the scale of a cruise terminal but some serious failures of good judgment.

        But on this one Alden is right, assuming there is a good option on the terminal project CHEC is certainly not it.



        • Anonymous says:

          I gave you a thumbs down because there is no future in the past. Tomorrow I will give you a thumbs up because "CHEC is certainly not it". THAT is what we have to deal with at this point in time.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am afraid I am not really following some of your allusions. Let's take a few. How was the PPM Govt. responsible for Operation Tempura exactly? You understand that that falls under the remit of the Governor and was a runaway train directed by the previous Governor, right? Boatswain's Beach was built by the previous UDP Govt. Rollover was legislated by the previous UDP Govt. Failure to promote alternative energy solutions and electric vehicles could be attributed to all previous Govts including the previous UDP Govt. Matrix won the contract through the CTC process and the CTC was responsible to vet the company. There are any number of projects of any govt. that "never got started" but, as I understand it, the point of the Matrix contract was to remove scrap metal and prepare the site for Waste to Energy.  

          Is that it?   

    • Anonymous says:

      I am afraid you either agree or disagree with Mr. McLaughlin's comments. This is an importand matter that will affect the lives of every Caymanian resident for generastions to come. Can we deal with THIS matter and forget about the pot and the proverbial kettle for just a minute please. Thank you Alden for your sensible and informative input and thank you for the beautiful schools that the UDP remain unable to finish as a result of squandering our money.    

  27. Chrisjohnson says:

    The CHEC deal does not pass the sniff test. Surely everyone realizes that. Auditor General away you go. Let me know if you require assistance.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a case of can't see the forest for the trees. We need to start thinking about why the Chinese wants to get into the Cayman Islands and it has nothing to do with building a dock, it has to do with them wanting a stronghold in the western Caribbean to be near the US. Just watch, the first boat to dock at the new Chinese dock will be a Chinese warship.

      • anonymous says:

        Don't be silly…stronghold???  Thats sure funny.  No serious navy would try to dock a real military ship in Hog Sty Bay. Too enclosed and only 40 feet of water, etc…etc. impossible to protect.

        You need to get out more and read what's happening around you.  The chinese have lovely harbours in Kingston, Cuba, Colon & Christobal Panama, Freeport Bahamas plus 4 in Mexico that would be better for that and they are available today and under their control. See ports owned or operated by Hutchison Whampoa as a start.  www.hwh.com

        And if you are still concerned that "the Chinese are coming" the UK and Chinese navies have just agreed to a mutual concept to interact and coorporate with each other in December. The next UK navy ship that docks in GT might actually have Chinese sailors on it!!





        • Anonymous says:

          You are quite naive and wrong you know.  All that sounds lovely in a peaceful world, but all it takes is something to push-start a war which can quickly escalate.  See how the Russian and Chinese recently voted to veto the decision by the UN to help those in Syria against their oppressor?  The people who are simply asking for more freedom and relief from tyranny?  But then, what do communists care about basic human rights.  Don't think that for one minute, those communist countries are afraid to flex their power, if they feel their interests are being threatened in anyway.  Remember the standoff during the Kennedy administration in Cuban waters, with the help of the Russians?  It is a wonder the world did not erupt into another war then, and it could easily have, if cooler heads did not prevail.  Watch the movie if you will and learn a thing or two, like how close the world came to another world war.  The previous 2 world wars were started for very flimsy, stupid reasons, and it all had to do with acquiring more power, control, wealth and land.  Things can change in a heartbeat.   Don't take anything for granted.   And don't let communists be in control of your main seaport of entry.  China is on a mission to conquer the world, by economic AND military might.  They have the largest army.  I hope you can sleep easy at night, knowing that.