New registration and licensing center set to open in January

The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing will start offering inspection, registration and drivers’ licensing to more conveniently service Grand Cayman’s eastern districts starting in January, leasing a facility from a private owner and catering to heavy equipment operators. 

Located in Breakers, opposite the South Coast Bar and Grill, the new $1.4 million, 8,400-square-foot station was built by bar owner Tony Powell, who will rent the facility to the licensing department. 

Mr. Powell said he had long planned to build a tire warehouse on the site but was approached by a department official last year who suggested he build a vehicle inspection and registration station. 

“I wanted to do only the tires, but he said ‘Why not an inspection station?’ I said no, not unless we can also have the tire franchise. 

“It will be a full inspection station, doing similar services to Crewe Road.” 

The project is under the authority of the Ministry of District Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure and Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes. 

Mr. Hydes was reluctant to elaborate, but said the project was moving ahead: “[The] Ministry cannot comment in detail on this as yet, as we are still putting the program together. 

“It [was] envisaged to have it located in a central area of Bodden Town in an effort to cater particularly to heavy equipment, and at a minimal cost to the government.” 

The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing defines heavy equipment as a “dump truck, backhoe, bulldozer, forklift or any other type of special vehicle.” 

According to the law, a special vehicle is “one not constructed or adapted for road use, and includes a track-laying or wheeled vehicle having motive power and designed to be used with or without accessories for construction, road maintenance, engineering or agricultural work, and also includes a forklift, front-loader and golf cart.” 

DVDL Director David Dixon would say only the proposal for a Breakers facility had come from his department, and that Mr. Powell had agreed to build it. 

The station will be the third for the department – one at DVDL’s 990 Crewe Road headquarters and the other at 9 Rev. Blackman Road in West Bay, near the police station. 

Mr. Hydes said he did not expect that the new facility would create jobs: “We do not anticipate adding more staff to the department,” he said. 

Mr. Powell said he ordered specialist vehicle-inspection equipment from a U.S. supplier: “You just need to tell them your specifications, and they ship it, no problems.” 

His $1.4 million cost for the facility included not just construction and equipment, but landscaping, paving and the inventory. He said construction started in June. 

He was reluctant to discuss leasing costs, but said the contract is “in increments of five years,” estimating it would take between 12 and 15 years to pay back his investment, but that the income would slash his own obligations by a third. 

“This is the first time to do something like this,” Mr. Powell said, pointing to other – and long-standing – government efforts to seek commercial partnerships with the private sector. 

“It’s an example to show how a public-private partnership can work,” he said. “They will have offices there, a couple of rooms, and put in the computer and security systems. 

“It benefits me,” he said, enabling him to create a complimentary commercial operation. “I will have an accessories store, selling, say, lights and spark plugs, auto parts, and I’ll have a tire warehouse. 

“If your car fails the inspection, you can make the repairs and get any parts right on the spot. 

“Everybody wins,” he said. “I’m happy, the government is happy … and the country is happy.” 

The new automotive center in Breakers will serve as a government vehicle inspection and registration center. – Photo: George Nowak

The new automotive center in Breakers will serve as a government vehicle inspection and registration center. – Photo: George Nowak

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  1. I would agree this is good, and well needed for the Eastern districts. However I remember very well at all political meetings, hearing about this project being planned and tossed around for at least twelve years or more.
    Other governments during the past twelve years could have stopped the foot dragging and did the same thing.
    This PPM Government have friends in divers places, so the truth is; as always been, you scratch my back, and I scratch yours, call it what you may.

    Now in the same breath as an avid "political watcher" can someone tell the people of Bodden Town, what has happened to the piece of property that the Bodden Town Old Clinic was built on. Politics maneuvering again; this building was secretly torn down overnight by the last Government. While no one knew what was taking place until the last brick was hauled away.

  2. Was this idea put out to bid? and if not why not? How and why was Mr. Powell "selected" to be the one to get this opportunity. Are there not other property owners in the area who may have wanted the opportunity to do this "commercial partnership" with the government. Just asking because a number of us know the connection with Mr. Powell and the PPM. Like Ms. Vargas says "you scratch my back and I will scratch your back"

  3. If this had been a foreign business entity that this project had been partnered with, complete with duty allowances and such…no one would have anything to say.

    That it is a Caymanian owned and operated venture would bring envy, jealousy and murmurings from some quarters, regardless of who it was.

    All big business projects are partnerships between the Govt. and private enterprise…that is not unique to Cayman.

    I, for one, am proud to see Tony get this opportunity and wish his venture all success.