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MIN. BRYAN MAKES THE PITCH FOR A BIGGER CARGO PORT

Government 13 Feb, 2023 Follow News

MIN. BRYAN MAKES THE PITCH FOR A BIGGER CARGO PORT

Admitting that he might very well encounter choppy waters on the way, Hon. Minister for Transport, Kenneth Bryan has announced that he has initiated steps to upgrade the George Town cargo port, putting it in the frame of a matter of national priority bordering on urgency.

“I know this is going to be a sensitive topic but the right thing to do is talk about it now. This is no longer about cruise passengers. This is being able to feed our children and ourselves and or people. Hence, the reason I want to get ahead of it.”

Announcing plans for what eventually could be a comprehensive upgrade of the port, Mr Bryan said the PACT government is being “proactive to address the capacity issue at our cargo port.”

He disclosed that “a Strategic Outline Case(SOC) concerning the expansion of the Cayman’s cargo port has been accepted by Cabinet and approval has been granted to proceed with the elements of an outlined business case for this project.”

Min. Bryan outlined the case for expanding the critical cargo handling facility while announcing another significant trade-related development - that of the cargo potential of Cayman Airways relaunching its Panama route.

“I should note that our cargo port serves as a main port of entry for at least 95 per cent of imports to the Cayman Islands, and hopefully with the route to Panama that number can go down a little because we will get some cargo imports with Cayman Airways.”

He explained that during the daytime the limitations of the port restricts it to being used for cruise operations during the daytime, switching to cargo handling at night between the hours of 6pm and 5am, a situation which has considerable knock-on effects.

“The Strategic Outline Case(SOC) has outlined that the cost to bring goods through the port are currently stretched and the reality is that within 10 years we will also be nearing capacity. Taken together, this means we will not be able to handle the level of cargo required to support our growing economy and population.”

According to Mr Bryan, capacity at the port is now stretched and at the present rate the George Town port will not be able to handle the larger cargo vessels and the supporting equipment required.

“The cargo vessels that are currently coming here are getting older and are reaching the end of their expected lifespans as they transition out of service being replaced with larger vessels. The new cargo ships are also much wider and require larger cranes that are able to reach across the ship. The boom of the cranes that are currently used are not built structurally to be able to lift containers across a wider span of the ship. Moreover, the bigger the ships with more capacity require a deeper draft. When fully loaded their draft will exceed the depth of the water at the port, meaning that the ships will not be able to fully berth the current period that we have.”

He also reminded that these issues are not new and that concerns regarding capacity at the port has been known for some time and were highlighted by the previous administration during discussions on the cruise berthing facility.

However Min Bryan noted that, “Even though the country has decided not to move forward with the cruise facility, we still have the pending capacity problems with the cargo port that will become more acute over time.”

Stressing what he sees as the urgency of the situation, the transport minister declared: “I don’t want to be the minister to recognise the problem that was coming for our people and did not do something about it.

He assured that there will be extensive public consultation and scrutiny before any final decision is taken regarding size and location.

“The main purpose of this strategic outline case has been to identify the options for moving forward and calls for us to either expand the existing port facility in George Town or to establish a port at an alternate location on the island.”

According to Mr Bryan several options have been included in the report as possible locations for consideration and the Port Authority will be recruiting a project manager to oversee the business case process which will be carried out by independent financial experts.


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