Transportation and business focus of Hew address

Minister also announces opening of SBDC

Joey Hew

A new Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing office in West Bay, improved transportation and enhanced cybersecurity were among the items Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Joey Hew touched on during his address to the Legislative Assembly Wednesday.

Hew said a 30% increase in transactions by the DVDL in the past year necessitated expanding the capacity of the agency. Most importantly, he said, the West Bay office was inadequate.

“DVDL is in the process of identifying suitable new locations in West Bay, with a view to purchase,” Hew said. “The new location in West Bay will include provisions for vehicle inspections on site.”

The minister said the department would also be offering more online services in the coming year, including the scheduling of both written and road tests for driver’s licences.

Putting those licences to use has become more and more of a challenge in recent months as traffic has significantly worsened. Hew, who oversees the National Roads Authority and Public Works Department, said there are projects in the pipeline to address the problem.

In addition to laying out previously announced plans to widen certain roads, such as the East-West Arterial and the western section of the Linford Pierson Highway, and build new ones, like the road between Sparkys Way and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and the extension of the East-West Arterial to Bodden Town, Hew said a master transportation plan is being undertaken.

His ministry, he said, “will commission a mass public transit study that will guide the choices for a mass transportation system in the years ahead. We have to take a holistic approach to deal with the traffic situation. Our solutions will include alternative transportation, limits on the importation of vehicles and a comprehensive transportation system.”

Hew touted the success of the Small Business Development Centre, which will soon have its own home, which he called “fantastic news”.

“A location at the Bay Town Plaza has been secured for the SBDC,” he said. “Staff have been hired and my ministry is actively involved in the pre-launch process. The centre will open its doors to clients before the end of this year [and] will expand outreach in the first quarter of 2020.”

So far, he said, “More than 5,000 microbusinesses and more than 700 small businesses have benefited from the discounts ranging from 50 to 100% on their trade and business licences.”

He called the $2.8 million cost of those discounts “money well spent”.

In addition, Cayman services as a whole need to move toward the digital realm, he said, particularly in the area of serving businesses. Soon, he said, liquor licences and special economic zone applications will go online.

With that move, he acknowledged the necessity of more cybersecurity.

“We must ensure that our core government infrastructure and critical national infrastructure is resilient to cyberattacks,” he said, adding that the Department of Commerce now has a chief security officer dedicated to overseeing such issues.

Other services that will soon be available online include government student scholarships, firearm registration and police accident reports.

The ministry, he said, is continuing to work on a cellphone alert system.

Hew wants to create a “one-stop shop” online for government services. Doing that will necessitate a cloud-based system, he said, adding that there are plans to test such a system in January.

“This will eliminate the need for persons to waste time searching for information on multiple websites,” he said, emphasising that the system would provide up-to-date accurate information.

In January or early February, design work is expected to be finished on the Bodden Town Church of God, which will also serve as a community hurricane shelter.

“The government will engage design consultants by the end of this week,” Hew said.