NRA pavers remain in Sister Islands
Nearly four years after an island-wide road-paving project on Cayman Brac began, National Roads Authority paving equipment, shipped from Grand Cayman, remains on the smaller island while the project continues.
The most recently paved roads are Songbird Drive and Major Donald Drive in the center of the Brac Bluff.
Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said those two roads, owned by the government, were asphalted in the past two months or so.
“The plan now is we’re [on] the government road in the center of the Bluff and the plan is to go west on the Bluff [paving Songbird Drive],” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
“If you look at Cayman Brac, it has a north side road and a south side road and a Bluff road in the center. The two lower roads have been done, so it stands to reason that the third road … the ones that are mainly used … would be the Bluff road and that’s being done now.
“We have prioritized the government roads and that’s what we are doing.”
The roads authority pavers were parked at the Cayman Brac asphalt plant property near the Agriculture Grounds on the Bluff on Friday. The deputy premier said they are being leased on a monthly basis from the roads authority.
“There’s millions of dollars invested in the actual asphalt plant itself, so the asphalt plant is no good if you don’t have a paver,” he said. “To try and finish out the project, that’s the equipment that we need here. The business case was ‘Is it better to lease it from the NRA or is it better to go ahead and buy one?’
“Since it’s short-term use, I believe this business case supports that you would lease rather than purchase.”
The project to pave Cayman Brac’s roads for the first time in 30 years started in June 2010. Since then, the north and south coastal roads have been paved, along with the road to the Agriculture Grounds and several side roads.
The project sparked controversy when, in 2011, the Caymanian Compass revealed that several private parking lots of businesses and churches had been paved using public funds. The newspaper later confirmed that the Legislative Assembly had not approved the use of those funds before they were spent. Mr. Kirkconnell said the current paving project was focused solely on government roads.
Asked whether a paving project that seemed likely to continue for more than four years was considered “short-term use,” Mr. Kirkconnell said, “That kind of equipment, you’d amortize it over 20 years on the books, so it’s a long-term investment.”
In spring 2013, a memorandum of understanding was forged among several government entities – all of which were ultimately responsible to Cayman Brac MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly at the time – “in which the NRA will supply certain equipment, labor and engineering services for the project of hot mix asphalt paving of certain roads in Cayman Brac.”
According to the minutes of the roads authority board meeting from April 2013, “Training of Cayman Brac Public Works Department (PWD) staff is to be done by the NRA and at the end of training (anticipated to be six weeks) the project is expected to be fully handed over to Cayman Brac PWD.”
But in September 2012, then-NRA managing director Brian Tomlinson told lawmakers that transferring the paving equipment to the Brac meant the roads authority had to contract with private companies for staff and equipment to pave Grand Cayman’s roads.
Board members at the time also questioned whether the government was falling afoul of the Roads Law by essentially outsourcing responsibility for road paving to the Sister Islands. It was unknown by press time whether any Grand Cayman public works or NRA staff remained in Cayman Brac.
Mr. Kirkconnell stated he did not know how much longer it might take to complete the Brac road-paving project.