What was billed as a Government Opposition public meeting regarding the government’s proposed Port project was held in the District of Northside on Tuesday, 26th November. However, the occasion was instead an opportunity for MLA Ezzard Miller to engage his constituents and the public in general.
Mr. Miller who was flanked by CPR Member Yohan Moxam and a political assistant early in the evening, started his presentation by telling the audience that most people in the District of Northside are opposed to the port.
“Firstly, there is no justification for spending this kind of money at the moment. There are also major environmental concerns and there is not conclusive proof that Seven Mile Beach will not be destroyed,” noted Mr. Miller.
He added that according to Captains and seamen he had spoken to, “… the way they are building the dock is in the wrong direction.
“North East winds are prevailing in the tourist season and they are building to the South East direction. All of the mariners I have spoken to say it will not work,” said the former Opposition Leader.
Mr. Miller said he was not convinced that with the bow of the ship to the wind and ‘her back’ set to a 90-degree angle, that the propulsion could maintain the ship’s position in winds stronger than 15 knots, which is often the case this time of year.
He went on to point out that the length of the piers out to sea would also mean that there would not be any breaking of the winds or ‘cover’ by the buildings in George Town.
“They are now throwing in the cargo facility to try and get support and we had never heard any talk of this before the referendum question was drafted by the Government. That is a 25 to 30-million-dollar exercise,” remarked Mr. Miller.
He said some of the reasoning being promulgated for the new cargo facility was that the bigger containers would mean that the cost of goods would come down. However, he thinks that in actuality the opposite is true.
“This business about a transshipment port is a fallacy,” declared the Northside MLA, who several weeks ago parted ways with the opposition and announced he would be finishing his term as an absolutely independent entity; seeking to form an entirely new Political Party in Cayman for the upcoming election.
The other two parties in the Cayman Islands are the People’s Progressive Movement and the Cayman Democratic Party.
Pointing to a pro-port magazine/publication, Mr. Miller told the audience that the only thing that was accurate in the brochure-styled booklet was the cloudy water that was not the transparent turquoise that Caymanians have enjoyed since time immemorial.
With regard to the actual numbers involved, Mr. Miller said the was 200 million dollars U.S. coming in from the cruise industry each year, which was actually 160 million dollars CI, there were roughly 4,62 jobs; accounting for some 92 million dollars U.S. in salaries or roughly 77 million dollars CI.
“That means the average wage is US$83 per day or CI$69. These jobs don’t pay a living wage in the Cayman Islands,” declared Mr. Miller, who went on to say Caymanians were already missing in this area of the economy and for good reason.
According to Mr. Miller, 72 percent of tour money goes to the cruise-lines from the sale of tours in the Cayman Islands. He said the fact that it costs a Caymanian $47 to go to the turtle farm and only $27 for the ship’s passengers - with another $69 dollars added on for the ships as pure profit - was ludicrous and ‘not right’.
“All they are doing is taking and not contributing.”
Mr. Miller also took aim at the current Minister of Tourism, Moses Kirkconnel, saying the latter has had to admit that some of the current revenue the Islands would be turning over to the cruise-lines is currently used to pay teachers, to contribute to government scholarships and pay for roads.
“We are now reducing that by millions,” remarked the MLA, who asked the audience: “Why is Verdant Isle., assisting the government with its campaign?
“We have had study after study in this country by people like Mr. Kem Jackson, who with a team from the university of Louisiana traced the movement of sand around the Cayman Islands for over seven years. They have proven that what these people are telling us is wrong.”
Other topics covered by Mr. Ezzard Miller in Tuesday night’s meeting included the new constitutional changes, the recent government budget and same sex marriage.
The Cayman Islands is set to vote on whether the controversial port project will proceed on 19th December in the Territories first ever people’s-initiated referendum. However, an application for a judicial review by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Port Referendum group is seeking to delay the vote so that persons who have been left off of the voters list because of what the government said was late registration will be able to take part in the historic vote; and more information about the project, as well as an updated environmental impact assessment study can be carried out.