Port MOU signing near

A Memorandum of Understanding on a proposal that would move port cargo operations to a new location north of George Town will be signed in the coming weeks, Cabinet Minister Charles Clifford told Finance Committee Wednesday.

‘Just within the last week, we have finalised the Memorandum of Understanding and sent it to the Legal Department,’ Mr. Clifford said. ‘I think it’s on the Cabinet agenda for next week.’

Once the MOU is approved by Cabinet and signed, a press conference will be held to announce the details of the arrangement.

Mr. Clifford has announced in the past that the plan is to move the cargo operations north of George Town. Although he has not said where those cargo operations will be, it is widely speculated the location is around Mr. Arthur’s store and the junction of North Church Street and Bodden Road. In his questioning in Finance Committee, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush mentioned Mr. Arthur’s store twice in relation to the cargo operations and he was not refuted by Mr. Clifford.

Mr. Bush asked about the environmental impact of putting the cargo dock in a new location north of George Town. He warned that any major marine works in the area, whether they involved large-scale filling or dredging, could have a major impact on Seven Mile Beach.

Mr. Clifford said an environmental impact study would be done.

‘Anything you do in the marine environment will have an environmental impact,’ he said. ‘The question is how much impact and how do you mitigate against that impact.’

The project would involve three parties: the Cayman Islands Government, the Port Authority and a private land owner, Mr. Clifford said, adding that he was not permitted to reveal the name of the private land owners.

However, last month Cayman property developer Atlantic Star Limited acknowledged it was participating in tripartite discussions concerning the development.

Besides moving the cargo dock to a separate location, the project would also include building two piers with four cruise ship berthing docks, Mr. Clifford said.

Asked by Mr. Bush if the MOU deal included ceding control of either the cruise facility or cargo facility, Mr. Clifford responded that the government would ensure that it was in control of key infrastructure, which would include the cargo operations. With regard to the cruise operations, however, he said government was looking at several financial models.

Mr. Clifford said the Port Authority and Port Authority Board were apprised of the plans for the cruise and cargo facilities and they supported the proposals.

Once the MOU is announced, there will be public consultation period for up to three months, Mr. Clifford said.

‘Everyone will have a chance to have their say.’

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