A wholesale revamp of the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands board of directors has been completed, closing out what had been one of the more tumultuous terms for the politically-appointed group in modern times.
The new port chairman will be Errol Bush, while Gerry Kirkconnell will serve as deputy chairman and the Chamber of Commerce’s board representative.
Other new members include architect Arek Joseph, businessman Woody DaCosta, shipping agent Robert Foster and banker Jacqueline Scott, who will serve along with one reappointed member, Ashton Bodden. Other non-voting members on the board include the government chief officer with responsibility for the port, the collector of customs and the financial secretary or his designate.
Former members not returning to the port board for the new term will be ex-chairman John Henry Ebanks, retired Customs Collector Carlon Powery and members James A. Bodden, Curly Evans, Rudolph Garvin and Anthony Akiwumi.
Mr. Bush, the new chairman, has a long history with the port authority operation. He served there as managing director for nearly two decades prior to his retirement in 2001.
Mr. Bush’s experience in the port and shipping business is vast. He has served for two years as the director of the International Association of Ports and Harbours and also as a board member on the American Association of Port Authorities. He also served as chairman of the National Roads Authority.
More recently, Mr. Bush was also recruited by the UK government to assist the Turks and Caicos Islands with the bidding processes for the proposed port project there. The local port board will need all the expertise it can get as it attempts to break ground on a new cruise berthing facility in George Town by next year.
In July, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was selected by the Cayman Islands government to produce a business case for the port facility, which is to include dry docks – eliminating the need for passengers to be ferried back and forth by tender boats from cruise ship to shore.
PwC will also produce the tender documents for an open bidding process to select the company that ultimately builds the pier. Tourism officials have said that it would be 2014 before a construction contract was finally awarded for the long-awaited project.
Few dispute the need for new cruise berthing facilities in Grand Cayman and the process of producing a business case is seen by some as a formality, necessary only to comply with the UK’s new ground rules on financing major projects.
Gerry Kirkconnell, the managing director of Kirk Freeport who has several businesses downtown and is now deputy chairman of the port board, welcomed the news that the pier was a priority for the new government.
In July, Mr. Kirkconnell said, “We need to get more cruise ships back as quickly as possible. The decline in the cruise ship market has definitely hurt businesses.” He said traders in George Town were pleased that the outline plan for the project was for a pier only, with “upland development” off the agenda.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said in his first press conference that the cruise pier project would be limited to berthing facilities only, calming fears that a cruise operator or construction firm could be involved in retail development, in competition with local businesses.
Gerry Kirkconnell said Kirk Freeport would look to expand its own presence at the Bayshore Mall, if the pier went ahead. However, he said he believes businesses are cautious about guarantees over the timing and will wait until construction is well under way before they move on any new development plans.