MLAs plan to blockade GT
(CNS): The opposition representative for East End and the independent member for North Side have sounded the alarm that government is pressing ahead with the East End cargo port and called on the people to join them in a full scale blockade of George Town to demonstrate the country’s opposition. Given the results of the developer’s environment report and the announcement on Monday that the premier still intends to approve the plan, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller have warned of the serious need to stop the project before it is too late. With the support of their constituents in both the districts, a commitment from local quarry owners and truck owners, the MLAs are planning a full scale demonstration.
At a public meeting in North Side Tuesday evening McLean and Miller stated that the need to put a stop to the project was greater than ever. Pointing to the Throne Speech delivered by the governor in the Legislative Assembly Monday morning in which the cargo port was the only major public/private development project other than the cruise terminal cited by government as planned for this year, he called on the people to join the planned demonstrations.
With no mention of the Hon special economic zone or the plans for Dr Devi Shetty hospital, Miller said he believed this was a clear indication that the premier was prioritizing Joe Imparato’s plan for the East End Sea Port -- which was nothing more than a disguised major quarrying project – as something he believed he could get off the ground.
“We need to continue and intensify our opposition to this project if we are to successfully stop it,” Miller said. He warned that, based on the government’s track record, the legislation to create the exemptions for the commercial port development project from taxes and other planning regulations could come to the House suddenly and without warning.
As a result, the MLAs were formulating a plan that would include as many people as possible to be ready to come to George Town with trucks to block the roads around the parliament building at a moment’s notice if necessary. He said there was a need for the people to come out in significant numbers and stand on the steps of the Legislative Assembly and make their feelings known as there was no other way to protect their country.
“We may have to act quickly,” Miller said. “We can’t say when this may happen it could happen very suddenly and we have to be ready to call on people to come to the capital and show their opposition.”
His colleague and opposition member for East End said that the government has the numbers to push through the legislation so the opposition MLAs cannot stop the premier from inside the Legislative Assembly. “This one will be fought outside and I shall be out there on the step with the people,” McLean promised.
Although the two MLAs say they will be carrying on with the petition to collect enough signatures for a people’s referendum, the process could take too long to have any impact. By the time more than 3500 signatures could be physically collected and verified as voters the project could have already gained official approval and the necessary legislation passed.
The EIA has indicated very real dangers that the authors claim can be mitigated, but a closer examination of the report would suggest that mitigation would be difficult at best. McLean said the developer must think the people of the Cayman Islands are “stupid or that they won’t read” the report, as he said it has listed all of the things that both he and Miller had warned against, from the contamination of the water lens to the exposure during bad weather to dangerous flooding, among many other issues.
Aside from the obvious environmental issues, the MLAs warned of the special treatment that the developer of the project would be given, and even if the development was to ever be more than a “big hole” it would exclude the local people. The two men also pointed to the plan to allow the development to build up to seven storeys, a first for the eastern end of the island, where development has traditionally be held at a five storey maximum.
The law which will be passed to exclude the developer from the usual regulations is being drawn up by Imparato’s people, and according to the EIA, the Central Planning Authority will be guided by this master plan. The new legislation is said to be akin to that passed in the UK’s capital during the development of the London Docklands.
Miller and McLean explained that once he has written the rules he wants to play by, it will be up to government to pass them, which was an outrage. “The UDP government is manipulating the laws of this country for their friends and themselves,” the East End member added.
He said the people from across the Cayman Islands had to come together had to put a stop “to this rubbish” and called for full and wide civil disobedience if necessary to save the eastern half of the island from destruction.
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