Imagine the following:
It is 4:43 in the morning, Dec. 25. A little boy’s eyelids flutter open. It’s here! He leaps out of bed. His pajamaed feet scarcely graze the steps as he flies down the staircase. And there, under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, is — No! Not the shiny red bicycle of his dreams … but a picture of a bicycle, with a note, saying that, if all goes to plan, he might get that bike someday. A few months later, it is the boy’s birthday. Next to the cake is an envelope. In it is a card, with another picture of the red bicycle, and another note saying, “Just wait until Christmas.” The next Christmas, he gets another picture of the bicycle, with another note. And so on.
Pardon us if we find it difficult to muster much enthusiasm over the latest announcement from the Cayman Islands government in relation to the country’s “National Solid Waste Management Strategy.”
We don’t want another report. We want a new landfill.
The government’s breathless plans for marginal measures such as recycling, composting and tire processing aren’t solutions. They’re diversions. (To return to the bicycle analogy once more, they are accessories — helmets, kneepads and handlebar streamers. Sorry, it’s not a bicycle.)
There are two key issues as to why Cayman does not have a solution to the odious and odorous George Town Landfill: 1) Politics, which prevented the Progressives from accepting the Dart Group’s offer to fix the existing landfill and open a new one in the district of Bodden Town; and, 2) Money, which our government does not have.
Any serious discussion on finding a solution for Grand Cayman’s dump has got to start with a dollar sign, followed by about nine numerals.
There is a simple reason why developers like Dart, Brian Butler and Fraser Wellon are able to see their projects through to completion: They have the money.
There is an equally simple reason why others only manage to leave giant craters in the ground (or, in the case of the government and the landfill, can’t get to the hole-digging phase): They don’t have the money.
The notion that this government will be able to solve the catastrophe of the George Town Landfill (or construct a cruise port downtown, or create any new major project) without having any money belongs in the realm of fantasy and right at home with the works of fiction being screened at this weekend’s Cayman International Film Festival.
The dump is far more than an 80-foot-high mound of garbage. Over the years, it has grown to be many things. It’s an eyesore for cruise passengers, an olfactory offense for residents and an unknown health hazard for anyone who approaches its vicinity. It’s a breeding ground for vermin, a burgeoning burial ground for green iguanas, and an aviary for flocks of birds that threaten planes landing and leaving the nearby Owen Roberts International Airport. To feral dogs, the landfill is the canine equivalent of Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
As much as the Department of Tourism is trying to encourage the upscaling of Grand Cayman’s tourism product, there is one thing standing in the path of our stayover visitors, between the airport and their sumptuous Seven Mile Beach resorts — a hulking, ugly dump.
Unfortunately, our government doesn’t have the money to fix that dump because, over the years and decades when the garbage problem was becoming apparent, officials instead chose to commit taxpayers’ funds to endeavors such as Cayman Airways, the Turtle Farm, the palatial Clifton Hunter High School, not to mention, salaries and benefits for our overgrown civil service.
If we’re mistaken, and there actually is money for a new landfill, then tell us, and show us — please — before we rush down the stairs again to the Christmas tree, only to discover, wrapped up in pretty paper, another set of empty promises.