MOU with CHEC 1 year old

| 15/06/2012

cruise ship 22.JPG(CNS):  It is now twelve months since the premier first signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Harbour Engineering Company to enter negotiations over the George Town cruise berthing facilities. When McKeeva Bush signed the deal to start exclusive talks with the Beijing firm and pulled out of talks with GLF Construction he said CHEC would get the project moving more quickly. Despite these claims, the port project remains stalled in the face of extensive controversy surrounding the Chinese firm, mounting local opposition to the choice, as well as a clear message from the UK that as things stand it cannot support the development.

After one year of talks with the Chinese the cruise berthing facilities still seem a distant goal for the UDP administration. Three years into the UDP government a port now seems less likely to happen than it did on the day Bush terminated the GLF talks in April 2011. At the time that firm along with its local partners Royal Construction had said they were no more than six weeks away from mobilization and the start of the piers. Had the premier made the decision to stick with GLF and move to a main agreement the first pier would now be finished.

Despite Bush’s claims that he wanted to get the port going and that CHEC is the best partner for the public-private project, in the last twelve months there has been little evidence of progress towards a start date. Most updates regarding the talks have come through leaks or FOI requests that have revealed CHEC’s desire for a 49-51 year lease, a share of the port fees, a plan for a two tier upland terminal of some 100,000 square feet and plans for a casino. The project has been described as ballooning in cost as it grows from an estimated $150 million development to one expected to exceed $300 million.

The choice of CHEC has brought significant opposition from many who depend on cruise tourism for their livelihoods as well as the Cayman Contractors Association – groups that are fully supportive of the need for the piers.

However, because of concerns over the firm’s reputation as well as the belief that CHEC is likely to exclude both local workers and businesses from the project, Bush’s choice of partner has very little support from the community or even members of his own political party. The premier terminated talks with GLF in April 2011 despite recommendations  that government should give the contract to GLF from the then port board chair, Stefan Baraud, a former UDP party chairman, and from UDP backbench MLA Cline Glidden, who was the port project's lead negotiator.

Bush ignored those recommendations and signed the MOU with CHEC on 13 June 2011 to design, build and finance the George Town facilities, a pier in West Bay and the renovation of the Spotts Jetty, with a lease period of 49 – 51 years. He then placed Ellio Solomon in the role as lead negotiator with the Chinese.

The decision to dump GLF and go with CHEC has not only stalled the project and raised significant controversy but it also cost the public purse more than $2.5 million in a settlement with GLF because of the breach in the terms of the Framework Agreement when Bush made the unilateral decision to stop the talks.

Up until last week, however, despite news about CHEC and its parent company being banned by the World Bank and revelations of people being imprisoned and even facing execution after accepting bribes from the firm, the premier has insisted that CHEC remains the right partner for Cayman.

Currently, auditors KPMG are undertaking a review of the proposed project and the premier has been advised by both the auditor general and the chair of the Central Tenders Committee on the way forward for getting the project back in line with international best practice. The UK has stated that it cannot support the proposal at present and bringing the project back in line with best practice may require a full tendering process.

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  1. SKEPTICAL says:

    CHEC couldn’t give a tuppenny toss about Cayman. We have no strategic natural resources for them to exploit, and the principal benefits were to screw us on cruise ship passenger fees, and establish a strategic economic base close to to the US. We can only hope to Hell that there were no pre- contract ” COMMISSIONS ” paid, which have already been spent on Nation Building.
    They have much bigger fish to fry with mineral, and food resources in Jamaica, and the exploration of offshore Cuban oil fields – and they wouldn’t be financing the drilling rig(s) in the Florida Straits unless the geological surveys showed that there is probably something there. And boy oh boy, if there is, how is that going to change the US – Cuba dynamic ! Can you imagine a Cuba which economically/financially could thumb it’s nose at the 50+ year US trade embargo

  2. Mr Bean says:

    Do you want rice with that Sir?

  3. Anonymous says:

    For the love of God just build the port and quit all the political games you bunch of clowns. I think we should just have Atlantic Star and GLF build the port, Spotts and West Bay jetty together as they were the two with the best bids also they are local companies. Also just let them do the renovation works on the airport as this is so badly in need and is a major priority, claiming we're a top destination yet has an old and outdated airport to welcome tourist, getreal. Mac and his fellow politicians incl PPM are a bunch of happy go luckies who are being paid $10-20,000 a month to do nothing.


    If the port or airport hasn't started by September that's 6 years after all the big talk then I say the people force them all of the house. Lives are depending on these projects to fast track a very slow economy, think of the number of people who would be employed probably around 500 on top of that the chain reaction of apartments being rented, taxis, shopping, duties and local businesses benefiting. Please AG and UK goverment please get a move on by retendering the bidding process to only 3 local companies as to get approval for the building of the port.


  4. Ants Nest says:

    Its funny to hear Ellio comparing his little housing project, to a much more complex project such as the port as if there on the same level.

    • The Devil's Advocate says:

      I agree. Just  because one can fly a kite, doesn't qualify you to fly a Jumbo jet.

      Ellio can't even figure out IF he got his College Degree or not !!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Soon come. Sigh.

  6. Big Big Bamboo says:

    Happy Birthday!
    Oh, haven’t read the MOU, but trust it includes a Giant Panda for us to keep at the Turtle Farm. They are way cool!
    Anyway, I digress. Enjoy your day, I bet the fireworks will be to die for!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Getting into bed with the Chinese is a bad idea…

    You think you are going to save a buck but in reality doing business with them costs you more in the long run because you have to hire additional help to make sure they do not cut corners.

    Doubt this? Ask any major company or country that has gone into business with them.

    Wonder whose pockets were getting greased for this deal.

    No, I don’t wonder at all.

  8. Captain Kurt says:

    For crying out loud, by the time the harbour's built I'll be in a wheelchair, never mind a starship. What the Dicken's going on??

  9. Sick of Cayman says:

    One more reason this uneducatedclown needs to be removed from office, not asked to leave. REMOVED!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone bake a cake?

    One down, 49 to go. Hope we can hold on. 🙂

  11. Peanuts says:

    Sad is all I can say, GLF would be 70% complete by now. Hear that Mac!

  12. Ike N. Sienow says:

    I don't want to badmouth our leader so I won't comment on this article.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is pure and utter foolishness now.  Out of the top 10 Caribbean destinations, we are the only one without a cruise ship port.  Being in the water sports business for many years, I am seeing first hand what the fallout is with all water sports operators becoming very short tempered these days and all of us are in full survival mode especially this summer.  We have seen that there have been many attempts by Government and the Tourism Department to try to patch the hole with Caymankind and the short lived cultural interactions at the port but all of this is a waste of time with out a cruise berthing facility.

    A long long time ago, we used to be the envy of the other Caribbean destinations who looked to us to try and figure out what they can do to be as successful as us, now we are the bottom of the list and it is we who are looking at the other Caribbean Islands saying wow… what can we do to be as successful as them.  It is really very simple – Build the d@#m cruise berthing facilities.

    Have you seen the facilities they did in Honduras, Falmout Jamaica etc.  They have all put us to shame and the blame clearly sits on the shoulders of all the previous Governments who never did anything.  This should be top priority right now and fear that if something doesnt happen soon, there will be serious consequences.

    On another note the operation of the Port Authority and PTU unit are a complete and utter joke.  There are no written rules on how things are supposed to operate at the port and the management there seems to make up the rules as they go along.  I remember being called to a mandatory meeting by Bush at prospect and he said that the cruise lines were complaining that passengers were being hassled at the port outside the terminal and he said that this would not be tolerated anymore and licenses would be revoked if anyone was caught harassing passengers outside the port.  Well what happened was just amazing – the next day there was no one in sight outside the port hassling passengers and I actually had some hope at that point for cayman and felt proud to attend that meeting and see some action and someone actually growing a pair to solve some serious issues at the port.  Didnt take long but maybe 3 weeks later it was business as usual and they were all at it again, yelling at passengers, fighting with each other, arguing, blocking the passengers from even being able to exit the port at some times.  You really have to go down there for a day and just take it all in as to what these passengers experince when they arrive at the port.  It is pathetic and operates so unprofessionaly – there is garbage strung about by the taxi dispatch building and the stench is unbearable at times.

    The PTU is no better and probably the result of under funding more than anything else but there is no enforcement whatsoever.  If you ever have a chance read the public transport laws that taxis and Tour buses are supposed to follow – it is a joke and every rule in the book is broken consistently by most of them.  Someone needs to step up to the plate and really turn this around as right now we are a third world in theses passengers eyes.

    I really dont care who builds the port right now or where it gets built wether it is the Chinese, Japanese, French, Italians, Jamaicans, Australians, Germans, England, Icelandians, Mexicans, Dartanians, Arabs, Iranians, North Korea,  etc…etc – Just please get it built.  If we have to go back and put it out to tender, just do it to speed things up…whatever we need to do to get this back on track – do it…our lives depend on it.  I am ready to go get me a shopping cart and fill it with coconuts get my machete and park it right infront of the port building and compete with my good friend down there selling coconuts as he seems to be the only one making money at the port right now with his genius idea. Its perfect, I would not need a trade and business license, no fuel costs, no health fees, no pensions, no duty on goods sold, no phone bill, no electricity bill, no port Id fees, no PTU test, no inspections,  just a long stick, a machete, a bicycle and a borrowed shopping cart.

    Please help us……

    Caymanian to the bone!

  14. Anonymous says:

    With Foolio at thr helm this ship has been aground for quite some time now. This one will never happen, so you can move on to other things of interest and forget about any cruise terminals being built in the near future.

    • Anonymous says:

      take it back!….foolio has completed some 'degree studies'!……….zzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Solomon has done a fine job thus far in trying to put the Caymanians back to work and if thus project was allowed to start we would all be too busy working to have time to post garbage on this site. Mr. Solomon please see what you can do to get more jobs for the starving and hungry in this country. I know of the excellent work you have done with housing, many of us were able to get work. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Give the project back to GLF based on their crediting the $2.5 mil to the job. We do not want CHEC and a retender will cost more money and delay the project for another year…that is if GLF even want to hear the words "Cayman Port" ever again, after the disgraceful way in which they were treated!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Should the question be When, When, When or Yuan, Yuan, Yuan?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mac's next trip is to look at the cruise ship piers in Las Vegas.

  18. Anonymous says:

    this adminstration is just one big 'soon come' scam……….

    i have lost count of the broken promises and announcements……

  19. EYE ON THE ISLAND says:

    The mentality of the Premier is he is above all things human and since he doesn't know better the good citizens have to show him better.

  20. Anonymous says:

    So if expediting the project wasn't the true reason Bush terminated the GLF talks and unilaterally appointed CHEC, I wonder what his real motivation was?