Chinese out of North Sound dredging talks
The Chinese group that has
expressed interest in dredging the North Sound is now in talks with government
officials to buy or lease the Cayman Turtle Farm facility.
Premier McKeeva Bush said the
investment group from China was “definitely out” with regard to dredging the
North Sound – partially because of negative public reaction – but was still
interested in becoming involved in projects here including the extensive Owen
Roberts Airport renovation project and the purchase or lease and then upgrading
of the Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter facility.
“They would want a jetty there,
too… to take a cruise ship,” Mr. Bush said, adding that he hoped to sign a
memorandum of understanding on the project in the near future.
“It would be a ministry MOU because
it would still have to go to Cabinet,” he said.
During the Fidelity Cayman Business
Outlook conference on 20 January, Mr. Bush said the Chinese investment group
was interested in constructing two cruise berthing piers in George Town Harbour
if the negotiations with GLF Construction, which has already signed a framework
agreement to build the facility, do not lead to a contract. He said they were
still interested in that project.
The framework agreement with GLF
was signed in mid-December and gave a time frame of four months to lead to a contract.
However, both sides of the framework agreement have reported good progress in
negotiations. A deal on the Turtle Farm would be the Chinese group’s way of
still building a cruise ship pier and for government to get out from a project
that required more than $28 million of subsidies between July 2007 and November
North Sound dredging “talk”
Although the Chinese group is no
longer interested in dredging a deep water channel for mega yachts through the
North Sound, Mr. Bush said there are ongoing discussions with another group to
do the project.
It has been through talks with this
company – which Mr. Bush declined to identify – that the possibility of
building two islands from the dredged marl and sand has come up.
“I have said that is a possible way
of the developer getting its money back,” Mr. Bush said, explaining that if
this plan came to pass, one of the islands would be for public use as a marina
and other one would be for the developer’s use as a mega yacht marina.
“The government wouldn’t pay
anything for this and would have to get some kind of royalty,” he said.
However, Mr. Bush stressed that all
of talks were just conceptual in nature and that there is no set plan for
dredging the North Sound.
“It’s just talk. I’m trying to
generate ideas and trying to get [investors] here.”
He said that he envisioned the
general location of islands to be off the east side of the Seven Mile Beach
corridor, but that he didn’t know how they would access from the mainland.
“The talks haven’t got to that
stage yet,” he said.
He said the plans circulated by North
Side Legislator Ezzard Miller – which showed a cruise berthing and cargo
facility on a single island in the North Sound – had nothing to do with what he
was discussing. He said there would be no cruise facility or oil refinery on
these islands if they were built.