Paving equipment sent to Cayman Brac from Grand Cayman in 2010 remains on the smaller island and may never be sent back, depending on how government decides to proceed, Works Minister Kurt Tibbetts said Friday.
Mr. Tibbetts’s comments came in response to a question from East End MLA Arden McLean, who wondered about the status of the equipment.
At present, the minister said road works in Cayman Brac are not complete and the decision to have the equipment there “has not been rescinded or changed.”
Minister Tibbetts said the longer-term question was what role the National Roads Authority intended to play going forward with road projects and whether it really needed the paving equipment at all.
“The NRA is looking to see if they want to get into that business anymore,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “We are pressed, at this point in time, to hold fast on numbers in the public service. The NRA is down by 40-odd or 50-odd [staff members] from where they were four or five years ago and there is no great desire on the part of anyone … to increase those numbers.”
Mr. Tibbetts also noted that one of the recommendations in last year’s Ernst & Young “project future” consulting report was to “hive off what is sensible” to the private sector, and road paving may well be one of those areas.
The road paving project on Cayman Brac is apparently still under way nearly five years after it was started under the former United Democratic Party administration. The NRA pavers were being used to lay asphalt on the roads on the Brac Bluff when the Cayman Compass visited the islands in April 2014.
The Compass asked Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell about the road paving at the time: “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.”
Mr. Kirkconnell said millions of dollars had been invested in the Brac asphalt plant near the Agriculture Grounds and noted that “the asphalt plant is no good if you don’t have a paver.” He indicated that the equipment was being leased from the government on a monthly basis.
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.