At least a dozen vehicles are imported to the Cayman Islands every day, adding to the island’s growing traffic problems, Premier Alden McLaughlin has acknowledged.
More than 4,000 SUVs, trucks and motorcycles were shipped into the islands last year.
Imports have doubled in the past decade.
McLaughlin acknowledged the situation was unsustainable.
“We have to have a better transport system. We need other alternatives to everybody having to own a car,” the premier said.
McLaughlin was speaking in response to questions from George Town Central legislator Kenneth Bryan in the Legislative Assembly last week.
Bryan asked for figures on vehicle imports over the last decade and an explanation of what government was doing to ease congestion on Cayman’s crowded roads.
The statistics provided by the premier in response show that imports rose from 2,298 in 2009 to 4,457 last year.
The most significant increases have been in the past five years, with a growing number of people importing secondhand vehicles from Japan.
Figures from the Economics and Statistics Office, reviewed by the Cayman Compass, show that vehicles are not being scrapped at anything like the same rate.
In 2017, the most recent year for which figures were available, 1,235 derelict vehicles where processed at the dump. The numbers fluctuate wildly and in 2014 it was as low as 71.
McLaughlin said the imports were linked to population growth and were clearly having an impact on traffic. He said government was aware of the problem and had announced, in the recent strategic policy statement, that a major traffic study was being commissioned to look at solutions.
“Of course there are major concerns. You have just got to sit in traffic every morning to understand that,” he said.
“A lot of this is being driven by population growth. We have to look at how we provide adequate transportation [for] the people in this country without having to construct more and more roads. Grand Cayman is so small that even if government had all the money in the world, we will run out of places to build roads.”
He said there were no signs that the islands’ growth would slow down any time soon, and his government was looking at traffic and public transport as part of a comprehensive plan to cope with “continued, significant population growth”.