Members of the Opposition, including Leader Arden McLean, Deputy Leader Alva Suckoo, along with MLA’s Chris Saunders, Anthony Eden, Kenneth Bryan and Bernie Bush, all got together at Savannah Primary School on Monday evening, to oppose the new port berthing facility at Savannah Primary School on Monday evening, urging people to vote “No” on Referendum Day.
Anthony Eden, Representative for Savannah, spoke first. He has already seen how bad the traffic was in George Town, even when five of the smaller cruise ships were in port, he said, so it would be even worse when the new facility enables even more cruise ship passengers to disembark: “It’s a great turn-off for the stayover visitors who contribute 80 percent of the revenue,” he explained. One of Mr. Eden’s main concerns was the possibility that the development would result in sand being eroded from Seven Mile Beach, which was, he said, our biggest tourism draw.
Next to speak was Shirley Rolston who is a member of CPR Cayman. “I am not an activist,” she said, “I am a humble and proud Caymanian.” She had, she said, “jumped onboard,” to help the CPR, as soon as she was asked to do so, because she said that over the years she had seen, “So much slipping away from us.”
“Cayman is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so it must be poor management why these problems continue to escalate and our people are being disenfranchised at every turn,” she said, urging the people to keep up the momentum by coming out to vote on Referendum Day: “For those who may be sitting on the fence let me tell you our cruise tourism has been growing sustainably the piers will not guarantee jobs. Having piers is not going to guarantee that our cruise tourism will continue to grow. People will get off here because Cayman is the gem of the Caribbean,” she said.
Chris Saunders spoke next. He explained that he had scrutinized some of the figures given out by the government, by comparing them with official statistics from cruise ship tourism across the region. In all given scenarios, he said, the Cayman Islands was already up in the top bracket for favorable cruise ship statistics, and so the government’s claims regarding all the anticipated improvements that the new facility would bring therefore sounded hollow.
West Bay North representative, Bernie Bush said: “Vote no. Do this for your children and for your grandchildren.”
Representative or George Town Central, Kenneth Bryan said: “This boils down to one word: Trust. Do you trust this Government?”. Mr. Bryan urged people to trust their gut instinct, in view of the way government had treated them, by calling them names such as ‘rascals’ and by withholding information. “It’s not that cruise tourism is bad, but cruise is the inferior tourism product to stay over tourism. We have created a high-end product,” he said, “These are the people who used to come and buy condos, not hamburgers and fries.”
Representative for Newlands, Alva Suckoo said: “Just Google: ‘Port of Miami Dredging,’” he said, “You will find that the latest dredging project has decimated the coral there.” Next Mr. Suckoo turned his attention to the way in which the Government had handled the referendum: “They went on the offensive against the people, to fight against the people of this country,” he said, claiming that they had also attacked the scientists from the Central Caribbean Marine Research Institute, who had written a report questioning the effectiveness of the proposed coral transplantation program.
Opposition Leader Arden McLean, said was actively encouraging people to vote “No.” He was, he explained, not in favor of the government undertaking such a project, when they should be focusing on other things: “Ladies and gentlemen it is wrong, the schools are not finished,” he said. “I want you to make this a referendum on them – they have failed you,” he said.
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