Clifford hits back in tender dispute

| 15/08/2008

(CNS):  In the wake of denials yesterday, 14 August, by Caribbean Marine Services (CMS) that they had ever been consulted over the new port development, Charles Clifford, Minister for Tourism and Environment, hit out last night with a direct attack on the CEO of the parent company of CMS, Atlee Bodden. Clifford said he was disappointed that Bodden would deny having had a discussion on the proposed introduction of berthing facilities.

In a brief statement the Minister said he had discussed the idea with Bodden at the FCCA conference in St Kitts in 2005 and had reiterated the government’s intentions to establish berthing facilities during the FCCA conference hosted by the Cayman Islands in 2006 and on many occasions in the media since then, and trusted Bodden would not deny that.

He said he was willing to work with him and those currently involved in tendering but that there would be hundreds of jobs and small businesses which stood to loose their livelihoods if the cruise sector was allowed to stagnate.

"Clearly the welfare of many must take precedent. Change will also present new opportunities. I took the step of highlighting how this cruise tendering business, which will be most directly impacted by the introduction of berthing facilities, might work with the industry to prepare for and benefit from the necessary infrastructure enhancements,” the Minister said. “Whether Mr. Bodden wants to acknowledge this spirit of cooperation some three years ago, I trust he will do so now.  The offer remains.”

In a statement issued to the media on Wednesday evening, 13 August, from Caribbean Marine Services, the firm responsible for the tendering of cruise ship passengers from ship to shore said that despite the Minister’s claims, “At no time did any meeting take place between the Directors of Caribbean Marine Services and the Honourable Minister, in relation to the berthing facilities or tendering services in the Cayman Islands, during the FCCA conference in St Kitts, 2005.”

The statement said that CMS had requested a meeting, in writing, with government in July 2007 but that CMS had not as yet received a response. CMS said that Clifford’s statements had led stakeholders to belief that Caribbean Marine Services has been involved and briefed on, the development of the Port.

“This is not the case,” the firm said. “Caribbean Marine Services has had no meetings with, or received any information from, the Government regarding the development of the Port, but obviously we would be extremely pleased to be included in any future discussion of the proposed pier projects.”

The government officially announced it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlantic Star Limited (ASL) to formalise negotiations for the development and management of the Island’s cargo and cruise port, on 31 July. At the presentation Clifford indicated that the tender pilots had been involved in discussions and suggestions had been made to them about how they could diversify the business including the idea of them becoming water taxis.


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