APIL Board Discusses Alternative Marianas Transport Service

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Ferry idea between CNMI and Guam promoted by members

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Dec. 6, 2013) – During the second day of the 54th meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures’ (APIL) board of directors yesterday, delegates voted to adopt a resolution promoting an alternative regional transportation – such as a ferry service – between Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

The APIL resolution mirrors Resolution 279 introduced at the Guam Legislature by Sens. Tina Muña-Barnes, Rory Respicio and Speaker Judith Won Pat which also promotes inter-island transportation between the two areas by means of a commuter and cargo vessel service.

The CNMI delegates stressed the importance of introducing the resolution both at the APIL level and at the Guam Legislature, noting the lack of inter-island transport has been an issue in the CNMI.

The CNMI delegates also sought the assistance of the other island delegates on information with regard to their experience in running their own inter-island ferry or cargo service to address operational sustainability and fuel efficiency concerns.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands delegate suggested adopting a two-pronged approach, utilizing vessels for both cargo and passengers.

RMI currently operates five vessels, including two newly built units from Japan. The island nation spends a little over $1 million for operating the vessels. The amount is subsidized by the government and by funds earned from their operation.

Idea

Muña-Barnes said the idea for Res. 279 came from meetings between herself and Rota Mayor Melchor Mendiola, as well as discussions held last month during the Mariana Islands Legislatures Association inaugural session on Guam.

The addition of a ferry or similar commuter vessel-based sea route between the islands, she said, will be beneficial to the promotion of trade between Guam and Rota and expand the tourism market in both islands.

Meanwhile, Respicio said the addition of a commuter and cargo vessel service will allow farmers from Guam and the CNMI to provide produce to both markets at better, more affordable rates.

For her part, Won Pat said the resolution is yet another step toward greater cooperation between Guam and the CNMI.

Other resolutions

The delegates also voted to pass several other resolutions, including one which thanked APIL for enabling legislative efforts on regional cooperation and information-sharing in law enforcement and human trafficking.

Initially, global warming was also incorporated into the resolution but the delegates decided to remove it so as not to dilute the issue and its impact.

Won Pat also said she is seriously considering adding the topic of global warming into the next APIL general assembly.

The body also adopted a resolution recognizing the government of Guam and its affiliates for their efforts in facilitating telecommunication connectivity throughout the region.

The APIL delegates also passed a resolution extending the deepest compassion and concern to the people of the Republic of Palau, who have been affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

They also passed a resolution extending hope for the swift and complete eradication of the mosquito-borne disease Chikungunya fever and also expressing concern for the state of Yap, which was affected by the outbreak.

Representatives from 12 Pacific island governments will be meeting at the Legislature today one last time to discuss an array of issues affecting the region.

The 12 Pacific island governments represented in APIL are: American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Hawaii, Guam, Nauru and Kiribati.

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