Chamber Council to Minister: Find GT dump fix by Sept. 30

[Dear Minister Osbourne Bodden,] 

The Chamber Council and I read with interest the article in the Caymanian Compass newspaper yesterday (Feb. 3) entitled “Minister: Landfill will stay in GT”. You were quoted during last week’s deliberations in the Legislative Assembly as confirming the establishment of a steering committee consisting mainly of civil servants, but also a few private sector representatives. It is also reported that you said the committee will perform exhaustive research, including travel to a number of other landfill sites to observe best practices and standards, as well as review information already compiled for former Works Minister and East End MLA Arden McLean’s administration. 

The Council questions the merit and value of this approach, “of travel, fact finding missions and exhaustive research.” In fact, we assess it to be unnecessarily protracted and unlikely to deliver value for money. Respectfully, the Islands cannot afford to wait another year or two, or worse, yet another full four-year administration to decide on a solution for this urgent, important environmental and public health matter. The public sector facts, data, reports and expertise assembled from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2009 and to 2012 are easily available on island or accessible through desktop technology. 

Additionally, through the October 2010 request for proposal (RFP) process there were multiple private sector proposals which themselves contained a wealth of information on best practices and possible solutions for the local challenge. Beyond that, there are several local companies, stakeholder groups and private citizens who continually keep abreast of best practices in solid waste management and practical options for addressing our local problem. 

The failure of successive governments to find a solution is not the result of lack of information, it is the lack of clarity about what the government is trying to achieve. It is lack of courage to make a decision in the best interest of our Islands. 

On Jan. 29 the Council wrote to the Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr. Roydell Carter seeking the government’s policy on solid waste management in the Cayman Islands. We await his reply. 

We respectfully propose that the Cayman Islands government utilise a more pragmatic approach and set a deadline of Sept. 30, 2014 to arrive at an agreed national solution. Further, we suggest that rather than reinvent the wheel and set up yet another committee, that you as Minister utilise a well-established, credible public-private sector mechanism — the Future of Cayman structure. 

As you may be aware, since 2009, the Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Cayman Islands government, continues to support and promote the Future of Cayman economic development initiative and through public and private consultation, five key drivers have been identified. “Building a Smarter Infrastructure” is one of the five drivers and the two main objectives are: to develop a national infrastructure plan and to invest in critical infrastructure. Solid waste management, and addressing the George Town Landfill, is critical infrastructure. One of the actions listed is to “improve waste handling capabilities by introducing recycling efforts, finding environmentally friendly means of disposal of non-recyclables and upgrading the sewage treatment system and opening a new solid waste landfill.” For the past two years, President-Elect Barry Bodden and Tristan Hydes have been the co-chairs of this driver group. 

It is based on this history of collaboration, coupled with our agenda for prioritized action to create a more sustainable Future of Cayman, that we recommend this approach and timeline. We must move forward with pragmatic urgency to deal with the critical issues negatively impacting our Islands. 

We know the Chamber Council and its members can effectively assist the government with arriving at a practical, implementable solution to this long standing issue. Cayman deserves an inclusive approach to develop an integrated solution; a solution arrived at by the facts, one that benefits the entire community and one which can be initiated before the end of this current PPM administration. 

We request the courtesy of a reply by Feb. 21, 2014. 

Johann Moxam
President, Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce 

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