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Year in review: cruise berthing controversy

Cayman 27’s year in review series continues with one of Cayman’s perennial hot topics -the cruise berthing facility.

The issue heated up to its boiling point in the latter half of 2018, but the controversial port project started 2018 on the proverbial backburner.

Off the backburner and into the fire…

This article published by Cayman News Service in August stoked fears that work could begin on the cruise berthing facility in weeks.

The article was quickly dismissed as fake news by Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell.

Critics bemoaned a lack of transparency on the part of government.

“We want to know what is happening, we want to understand what the process is, and where, where the government is currently, and we want to make sure that our concerns are being heard,” said CPR Cayman’s Michelle Lockwood in August.

That same month,  CPR Cayman began collecting signatures with the aim of triggering a people-initiated referendum.

Government responded with a campaign of its own, Support our Tourism, to the tune of $55,000 dollars of public money.

The battle for the hearts and minds of the Caymanian people was on.

“If we can’t take advantage of this opportunity in a time period, there are certainly other ports that are more than willing to take advantage,” said Mr. Kirkconnell in September.

Sharing a stage with cruise line executives at a 26 September public meeting billed as an opportunity to ‘hear the facts’ about the cruise berthing facility, Mr. Kirkconnell presented his case for the project. Despite fielding questions for hours, the panel failed to satisfy all critics.

In its subsequent coverage Cayman 27 presented a wide variety of viewpoints from several sectors of the community, including environmentalists and the business community over the following months, as government worked behind closed doors towards a deal on the project.

At a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of Cayman Airways new 737 Max-8 jet, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced that the cruise lines had outlined their financial commitments to the project.

A press release in December said final tender documents have been issued to the three remaining bidders.

According to the Tourism Ministry, the winning bidder will have to be approved by the public procurement committee.

That bidder will be contractually obligated to conduct a geo-technical survey, as well as provide plans for coral relocation and environmental management, at its own expense.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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