Capital developments in Cayman's infrastructure continue apace but are they enough to meet ever-increasing demand? Severe traffic congestion, overcrowded schools and hospitals with not enough beds for patients, all indicate the significant strain due to the rapid population growth in the last two years.
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There are a number of upcoming capital projects that are designed to improve the Island's infrastructure and quality of life for residents and the standard of facilities for vistors. The long term goal of the Government is to attract new businesses and investment, and create jobs for Caymanians. We take a look at future development in the sectors of Healthcare, Transport, Waste Management, and the George Town revitalisation project.
Health City Cayman Islands Expansion
Health City Cayman Islands, which established a 110-bed hospital in East End in 2014, is currently constructing a new US$100 million hospital in Camana Bay. The new facility will feature a specialised cancer care centre, neonatal intensive care unit, emergency pavilion, critical care unit and emergency, multi-specialty programme, including an expansion on robotic-assisted surgery, which was introduced to the Island by Health City for the first time last year. In March 2023, the hospital’s Radiation Oncology Centre was opened and gave life-saving treatment to its first patients on 17th May 2023. This new location, expected to be fully open in 2024, will cement Grand Cayman as a medical tourism destination in the Caribbean, being the first in the region to offer services like bone marrow transplantation, CAR-T cell therapy and a one-of-a-kind neonatal intensive care unit.
Nearby, Dart plans to establish a new centre of health and wellness near the Health City Cayman Islands medical campus, in Camana Bay. The purpose-built three-story structure, scheduled to open in 2026, aims to create a convenient environment for health and wellness services by bringing various experts under one roof. The goal is to meet local healthcare needs, aiming to enhance accessibility for residents and tourists. The Centre, positioned near George Town and Seven Mile Beach, will include amenities like a cafe and wellness offerings, forming a healthcare hub alongside the new Health City facility.
Active Dart Projects
The Dart Group has been building and developing property in Cayman since 2005. With Olea, Kapok, and 60 Nexus Way now completed, new projects for Dart are in the pipeline.
Development of the Hyatt Site
The Central Planning Authority has approved Dart's $5 million redevelopment project of the site which was all but destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This initial phase will effectively be an extension arm of existing property Palm Heights, serving as a boutique hotel, restaurant, pool facility, and creative workspace, with future phases including renovations of other structures. The development aims to create a blend of traditional hospitality rooms, creative spaces, and fluid multi-purpose areas. Dart seeks to attract a diverse local and international clientele, including celebrities, and create job opportunities in hospitality and property management.
Hotel Indigo is a boutique hotel set to open in early 2024, located on Seven Mile Beach, offering 282 guest rooms, many with a sea view, multiple dining venues, an extensive pool deck, 6,500 square-foot ballroom, a gym, spa, business center and kids club. There will also be an elevated rooftop bar with 360 degrees views. The design is purported to feature local materials and artwork, and focuses on cuisine crafted from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Owen Roberts International Airport
Infrastructure development plans continue at Owen Roberts International Airport. Approved, albeit controversial projects include a $28 million expansion of the runway into the North Sound and a $42 million reconstruction of the General Aviation Terminal for private jets. The CI Government has approved four key elements of the Airport Authority's new long-term plan, totalling CI$76 million. The remaining two elements of the scheme are less controversial: the modernisation of the air traffic control systems, (est. $4.7 m), and work on the runway safety area at Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac, (est. $1.1 m).
Construction is slated to start next year and funding would come from two potential sources: an airport terminal tax of $5 and an ‘airport development’ fee of $15 per passenger.
The primary objective is to increase the volume of stay-over tourists by accommodating larger planes with more passengers. In the context of the private jet terminal, the aim is to elevate the count of visitors with a substantial net worth and greater disposable income.
George Town Revitalisation Project
The next phase of the Central Business District Enhancement Project, part of the George Town Revitalisation Initiative led by the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing & Infrastructure, is set to begin 'imminently', as of November 2023.
This phase focuses on reconstructing the George Town Post Office intersection and upgrading underground infrastructure on Edward Street, Main Street, and Shedden Road. The project aims to enhance the city's appeal and accessibility and is supported by key agencies, with an expected duration of about seven months.
Colin Lumsden, George Town Manager and Revitalisation Initiative Coordinator, stated that the initiative's goal is to improve city movement and public spaces.
The first phase pedestrianised Cardinall Avenue, upgraded infrastructure, and facilitated events like Cayman Art Week and the LIVE Street Food Festival. Plans for traffic diversions during intersection work will be announced soon.
Lumsden emphasised that the project's success in phase one has set the stage for further enhancements, creating an interconnected and vibrant central George Town.
Major Road Works & Expansions
The CI Government are actively addressing traffic concerns and improving their road infrastructure. Commuters are increasingly frustrated with rush-hour congestion, a problem exacerbated by the rapid expansion of residential areas outpacing road development.
As of November 2023, the National Roads Authority (NRA) is in the final stages of expanding the Linford Pierson Highway. This expansion will result in a two to six lane increase, with a new connecting road from Outpost Street.
Additionally, the NRA is planning for the realignment and widening of Crewe Road, westbound from Grand Harbour. This project also includes enhancing the King's Sports Centre roundabout, which will provide an alternative route for residents looking to avoid Grand Harbour, with work slated to begin in late 2023. These upgrades aim to alleviate traffic congestion at this bottleneck.
A study is also underway to explore possible solutions for the notorious Grand Harbour roundabout, offering hope for more efficient travel to work and school.
For 2024, the NRA has outlined several projects to further improve road infrastructure:
- Godfrey Nixon Way Extension and Beautification: This project aligns with a "neighborhood" theme and involves a landscaped median connecting Eastern Avenue to the main George Town area.
- Airport Connector Road: This road will link the roundabout near Cayman International School with Sparky's Drive in the Industrial Park. Phase 1 is set to be completed by the end of 2023, with Phase 2 commencing in early 2024.
- East-West Arterial Widening: A 0.6-mile stretch of the East-West Arterial highway from Poindexter Road to Hirst Road, including the Poindexter Road roundabout, is anticipated to be completed by late 2023.
- East-West Arterial Road Expansion: This expansion project stretches from Woodland Drive in Savannah to Lookout Gardens in Bodden Town. However, work on this project is currently on hold pending an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and other necessary factors.
- For more detailed information on these projects and others, you can visit the official website at www.caymanroads.com. These ongoing developments aim to enhance traffic flow and address the increasing transportation demands in the Cayman Islands.
Submarine Cabling Upgrades
The Liberty and MAYA-1 subsea cables which provide approximately 99% of the Island's digital communications to the outside world, through Jamaica and the US respectively, are both well over 20 years old and moving towards the end of their service life. In November 2023, the Governement announced that the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing & Infrastructure has enlisted the expertise of a project delivery team, at a cost of $1.39 million, to manage the upgrades of these ageing sytems. In a strategic partnership with Cambridge Management Consultants, specializing in subsea cable projects, and collaborating with WFN Strategies, an independent telecommunications engineering services provider based in Virginia, US, the Ministry aims to benefit from their combined knowledge in project planning, system procurement, and project execution. SBM International, based in Cayman, will also play a lead role in this collaborative effort.
Public Bus Service Improvements
In April 2023, Deloitte published a report on the Cayman Islands' public bus system, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. The report found that the current system is "fragmented, inefficient, and unsustainable," and that it is failing to meet the needs of the community.
Deloitte's recommendations include:
Scrapping the current private bus service and replacing it with a government-run public bus network. This would give the government greater control over the system and allow it to implement more efficient operations.
- Investing in new buses and infrastructure. This would improve the reliability and comfort of the service, and make it more attractive to riders
- Larger buses with amenities like personal item space, WiFi, and accessibility features for disabled individuals
- Creation of bus lanes and more official bus stops with WiFi
- Potential establishment of district depots with various amenities like shelter, surveillance, lighting, and security
- Ensuring easy access for customers with physical disabilities
- Deployment of customer service representatives at bus stops and depots
- Facilitation of comprehensive online or advance payment options
- Ensuring reliability by adhering to predefined schedules
- Expanding the bus network to cover more areas
Deloitte estimates that the cost of implementing these recommendations would be between $25 million and $30 million but the benefits outweigh the costs.
The report found that a public bus system would have a number of positive impacts on the Cayman Islands, including:
- Reduced traffic congestion and air pollution.
- Improved access to education and employment opportunities for low-income residents.
- Increased tourism revenue.
- Greater social inclusion.
As of November 2023, it is not yet clear what plans the Governement has to implement these recommendations.
ReGen represents the waste-to-energy plant and recycling infrastructure essential for establishing a comprehensive, eco-friendly solid waste management system in the Cayman Islands. In 2017, the Cayman Islands Government designated a consortium led by Dart as the favoured entity to oversee the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of the various state-of-the-art facilities. In 2021, the preceding administration finalised a project agreement with the Dart-led consortium, marking a pivotal project milestone. However, several substantial matters remain to be resolved before the project’s financial agreement can be reached. A completion date of 30th September 2023 was published, but it is not clear as of November 2023, if that deadline was met.