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By Aldwin R. Fajardo Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 28, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---Northern Islands Mayor Joseph T. Ogumoro is soliciting the assistance of the Commonwealth Ports Authority in identifying the most viable locations on the four islands north of Saipan that could house air and sea transport facilities in the area.

This is in line with efforts to assist displaced residents of the Northern Islands to return and resettle in Anatahan, Alamagan, Pagan and Agrigan.

According to Mr. Ogumoro, there is a need to construct basic air and seaport facilities, as well as other infrastructure projects in the Northern Islands to clear the road for the area’s economic growth.

"I have recently received numerous inquiries from off-island investors expressing interests in establishing eco-tourism resorts on the islands of Anatahan and Pagan, and the existing local and federal requirements for constructing day-time seaport and airport facilities," he said.

The mayor has asked CPA Board Chair Roman S. Palacios and Executive Director Carlos H. Salas to provide his office with the requirements set by both the local and federal governments that must be met in constructing new transport facilities.

Airport facilities in the Northern Marianas are under the direct supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration, which sets the standards for new and ongoing projects that relate to air transport facilities.

According to Mr. Ogumoro, he is confident private investors would be willing to undertake the infrastructure projects in the Northern Islands since current economic conditions cripple the government from coughing out funds to carry out the construction.

"I am requesting your assistance in helping us identify locations or sites suitable for the construction of seaports and airports on the islands of Anatahan, Alamagan, Pagan and Agrigan," he told Mr. Palacios and Mr. Salas in a letter.

Mr. Ogumoro is currently preparing a proposal for the creation of the Northern Islands Economic Incentive Program, which will be submitted for approval to the CNMI Legislature.

The economic incentive program will outline the local government's response to the numerous business inquiries it has been receiving from interested investors, the mayor said.

At the same time, Mr. Ogumoro asked that all trips to any of the four islands north of Saipan be coordinated with his office in order to provide extensive information on the overall area’s terrain.

The Northern Islands Mayor's Office (NIMO) earlier sought the assistance of Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio, the Legislature, and the Board of Public Land in the implementation of the homestead program in the area.

NIMO has also been working at initiating commercial land leases and other economic development programs in the four northern islands, while stressing that this can only be made possible through the construction of air and sea transport facilities.

"The Northern Islands cannot be properly developed without access to reliable transportation systems. As you know, there are no existing reliable port facilities in the area," Mr. Ogumoro said.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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