EMERGENCY DECLARED OVER TINIAN HARBOR

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Urgent call for repairs to sea wall, piers

By Haidee V. Eugenio SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune) - Gov. Benigno R. Fitial yesterday declared a state of emergency for Tinian to be able to reprogram funds for the US$2 million to US$3 million rehabilitation of the island's outer seawall and piers.

The governor's declaration came four days after Tinian Mayor Jose P. San Nicolas signed his own declaration of emergency to be able to take all necessary measures, including but not limited to, reprogramming of funds within the municipality to prevent further deterioration of the World War II-era outer seawall and piers.

This is the second time that San Nicolas declared a state of emergency on the island. On Oct. 5, 2006, he declared the island under emergency also due to its damaged harbor and seawall but the problem has yet to be fully fixed.

Fixing these structures, San Nicolas said in his second declaration, will also prevent the silting of the Tinian harbor.

"The project will cost between US$2 million and US$3 million," San Nicolas told Saipan Tribune in an interview on Capital Hill.

San Nicolas said another US$45 million will be needed to repair/rebuild Tinian's breakwater, and this needs the help of the federal government and the office of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP). But he said the priority now is the outer seawall and piers.

He said some US$15 million in Capital Improvement Project funding is available for reprogramming, and he hopes that a portion of this will be reprogrammed for the outer seawall and piers.

"The money is there; it just needs to be reprogrammed. With the emergency declaration, we will be able to get the money and a contractor faster than normal procurement procedure. We need to repair the harbor for the people of Tinian," said San Nicolas, who is seeking re-election.

In his declaration, San Nicolas said typhoons severely deteriorated the outer seawall and piers built during World War II, leaving the inner dock of Tinian harbor vulnerable with risk to continued operation of ferry boats and other marine traffic which is essential to public safety and commercial needs.

"If allowed to continue, such conditions will lead to destruction of harbor piers," he said.

The lead agency for preparing and coordinating resources during the state of emergency is the Office of the Tinian Mayor, in coordination with the Commonwealth Ports Authority and other agencies.

The emergency declaration is in effect for 30 days.

The governor, in his declaration, said an emergency is declared to mobilize all available resources, including reprogramming of ILS or instrument landing system funds "for the purpose of public protection and preservation of property."

ILS facilities are a highly accurate and dependable means of navigating airport runway. When using an ILS, the pilot determines aircraft position primarily by reference to instruments. It provides the lateral and vertical guidance necessary to fly a precision approach.

"All agencies of the Commonwealth, including but not limited to the Department of Finance and the Division of Procurement are directed to support the mayor so that resources are effectively and promptly utilized to address the Tinian Harbor Emergency," Fitial said.

The lead agency, he said, is the Department of Finance, in coordination with the Office of the Tinian Mayor and other agencies.

The ILS project originally had US$3.5 million in funding through a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs approved in November 2007.

Some US$2 million of the amount will now be used for more pressing needs at the airport such as renovations, improvements to the commuter and terminal facilities, and the sewer system.

Months ago, the long-delayed ILS project was suspended, and US$2 million of its US$3.5 million funding was earmarked for other Tinian airport projects, such as renovations, improvements to the commuter and terminal facilities, and the sewer system.

For the Tinian airport, which is surrounded by the ocean and vast empty land, officials believe it may not be that necessary or crucial to install an ILS, which is usually used in bigger airports.

San Nicolas also said that his decision to declare a state of emergency until he gets all the money needed to repair the outer seawalls and piers has the support of former Sens. David Cing, Manny Villagomez, Herman Manglona, and the late Joaquin Adriano.

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