Premier Alden McLaughlin says a final contract between government and the Dart group on the future of the George Town landfill, which has been delayed for four years, is likely to be signed before the election in April.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, 19 Feb. to announce plans for a new $100 million Health City hospital in Camana Bay, near the existing landfill site, he said, “An incredible amount of work has gone on and we are quite confident before we demit office for the elections, we will have that agreement signed.”

A consortium led by Dart’s construction firm DECCO was announced as the preferred bidder on the ‘Integrated Solid Waste Management System’ project in 2017, but a final deal has yet to be signed. The project includes remediating the site and creating a waste-to-energy facility that would reduce the amount of garbage there.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said he expected the contract to be signed as early as within the next three weeks.

Remediation work at the landfill, which involves covering the dump in aggregate, is “mostly completed”, according to Dart’s executive vice president of real estate development and operations, Justin Howe, who said Health City’s announcement last week of its new hospital showed it was confident that the landfill project would proceed.

McLaughlin told reporters at Friday’s briefing, “The plan always has been to essentially close the current landfill and continue dumping while the rest of the project goes ahead, particularly the waste-to-energy facility in the area where the Hurricane Ivan waste and debris was put… so we are not troubling any new land.”

He added that the waste-to-energy part of the project was expected to take two-and-a-half to three years “from start to commissioning”.

“After that, the actual amount of rubbish which will have to go to the landfill will be significantly reduced by more than 90%,” he said.

The premier said government and the Dart group had decided that “because the bigger contract is so complex, and the negotiations about it, that we would both go out on a limb, quite frankly, and move ahead with the smaller and more easily quantifiable, in terms of money, bits of the project, so we would not go through however many years with absolutely no progress being made.”

He added that if the final contract were not signed, government would have to pay for the work already done by Dart to remediate the landfill, and then find another entity to proceed with the project.

However, he said the way the work had progressed in increments meant that the project had not been at a standstill for four years while awaiting the final sign-off of the contract.

In October last year, Dart and the government signed a number of agreements relating to the remediation and capping of the landfill, at a cost of $20 million.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Sign in, or subscribe