In the five months since Premier McKeeva Bush signed a ministerial
Memorandum of Understanding with China Harbour Engineering Company to design,
build and finance a cruise ship berthing facility in the Cayman Islands, we’ve
heard little about that company’s plans.
That changed recently when China Harbour invited a Cayman delegation
from the government, Chamber of Commerce and one of our journalists to view its
work in Jamaica, where it has several projects.
During the trip, China Harbour revealed details of its project here the
first time, but in some cases, those revelations raised more questions than
they provided answers.
For instance, we learned that the new facility will provide berthing
for four Genesis class cruise ships, referring to Royal Caribbean’s mega-sized
vessels. Why build a facility for four cruise ships of that size when only two
of them exist, they would never stop here at the same time, and there are no
plans to build more?
Because of the size of the Oasis-class ships, building a berthing facility for
four of them would require a much bigger footprint, both on land and in the
sea, increasing the cost of the facility dramatically. Is this really needed?
In addition, we learned that Chinese workers would form one-third of
the required labour force for the project. Where will these people live? Will
China Harbour build inexpensive barracks for these workers, as they have in
We also learned China Harbour would be happy to develop and fund a plan
to deal with the traffic in George Town that the berthing facility would
create. Is this type of scope-widening plan actively being discussed?
And what about these “billion dollar projects” China Harbour hopes to
do here? Which projects are those, and what does that mean in terms of the
government’s total indebtedness to China Harbour and the number of Chinese
immigrants that might come here?
Lest we be accused of being “demented souls” again by Premier Bush, we
raise these questions only because we believe the country needs to know exactly
what it’s getting into before any deals are finalised.