The Cargo Port – The lifeblood of the Caymanian economy: Why we need to redevelop the port

The Cayman Islands is not an industrial nation, nor is it a manufacturer of goods. Its economy is service based.

We sell services locally and internationally and we purchase goods from abroad to support the service industry and our lifestyles. In essence, we are trading services for the goods that we need. We have done that successfully for many decades and as a result we now enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world.

In order to maintain that high standard of living there must be a steady, efficient and uninterrupted flow of people and goods into the Cayman Islands. The Port is the sole hub that facilitates this, doing so in three ways:

· Allowing cruise tourists to enter our island where they purchase local services

· Allowing for the importation of goods to enable those services to be offered

· And allowing for the importation of the other goods needed to sustain the economy and our people including everyday essentials such as clothes and building materials.

Leaving the cruise industry aside for a moment, according to the Economics and Statistics Office, the total value of goods imported through the cargo port in 2017 was CI$658.7 million. That is almost CI$13 million worth of goods weekly.

However, our port facility is 40 years into its 50-year lifespan and is feeling the strain of age and over-capacity.

When the port was built in 1977 the population of the Cayman Islands was 14,800, and around 50,000 tons of cargo was handled annually.

Forty years later our population has increased to 63,400. Naturally, more people equal more goods and the port is now handling in excess of 300,000 tons of cargo annually.

This means that our population, which is 328% larger, remains reliant on the same piece infrastructure first constructed over 40 years ago to process 500% more cargo. In short, the facility is now too small to adequately handle the volume of business that we are receiving.

Moreover, the physical structure is degrading rapidly and in need of repairs:

· the concrete on the dock where containers are staged has long fatigue splits in it;

· a drain recently blew out in the last cold front and ruptured the surrounding concrete;

· the water mains on the dock have had to be completely replaced due to repeated rupturing;

· the columns supporting the rotundas on the cruise terminals are splitting due to the degradation of the steel inside.

Unfortunately, the list goes on. A major refurbishment would be extremely costly but would still not solve the problem of the lack of space.

An expanded and modernised port is essential if we are to ensure that cargo and cruise passengers can be handled in a timely, efficient and safe manner well into the future. Moreover, the proposed facility will be constructed and then paid for by cruise passenger fares, meaning that the people of the Cayman Islands will receive a modern and efficient cargo port without having to pay a penny and the Port Authority of the Cayman Island will continue to manage and operate the port into the future, just as it does today.

The port redevelopment is not just about securing the cruise industry but is also about ensuring that the economy of the Cayman Islands can continue to grow and develop. Support the development of a new and expanded cruise and cargo port project and you are supporting Cayman’s continued economic growth and development.

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