MLAs clash over port deal

About 700,000 cubic yards of fill – said to be worth millions of dollars – has been removed during a company’s canal excavation work on Port Authority property, the House heard.

Minister Charles Clifford said the project was known as the Safe Haven Marina project and was ‘currently the subject of a legal review by the Port Authority’s attorneys as there is no formal agreement in place between the developer, Cesar Marina Corporation Ltd., and the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands.’

Answering a question in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, Mr. Clifford said that in May 2003, Cesar Marina presented a proposal to the Port Authority to construct and manage a public marina.

‘And in consideration the Port Authority would grant the developer the right to construct water access to the North Sound via a canal on the Port Authority’s property, and that all the excavated material from the canal would become the property of the developer,’ he said.

He said that in September 2003 the Port Authority Board, in principle only, approved the marina development and management agreement.

‘Negotiations between the parties stalled and the final plans were never approved by the Board and no agreement was signed between the two parties,’ said Mr. Clifford.

Notwithstanding that, the company had excavated a canal covering about 4.5 acres, said Mr. Clifford.

He said the Port Authority discovered the work had started during the first quarter of 2005 and found out that approval for the work was given by the former chairman of the Port Authority, who Mr. Clifford named as Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.

‘It is estimated that some 700,000 cubic yards of fill has been removed to produce the canal and used as fill on the developer’s property,’ Mr. Clifford told the House.

‘Notwithstanding this irregular situation, the Port Authority recognises that what has been done cannot be changed and the Authority is therefore eager to resolve the matter in a way that protects the interests of the Port Authority and the general public,’ he said.

Further questioned, Mr. Clifford initially gave the estimated value of the fill at between $1.5 and $1.7 million but then revised that figure to one of about $14 million.

He said he did not know who the directors of the company were but said they had been represented at a Port Authority Board meeting by Mr. Michael Ryan.

Opposition Leader Mr. Bush accused Mr. Clifford of playing with the truth and not telling the full story.

After a clash with Speaker of the House Edna Moyle, Mr. Bush refused to withdraw remarks in which he claimed Mr. Clifford had not told the whole truth.

Mrs Moyle said she would make anyone a martyr by naming them in the House and asking them to leave the chamber.