Rough Seas Delay Shipments Of Supplies To Rota

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Even before typhoon, prices skyrocketed due to limited supplies

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 8, 2014) – Rough seas have delayed shipments of rice, other food, building materials and vehicles to the island of Rota, officials from two shipping companies said yesterday.

Shipments delayed

The last time Rota received a sea shipment of consumer goods was Aug. 11, said Bong Banzuela, operations supervisor at Saipan Shipping.

Saipan Shipping uses a tugboat and barge to bring about 15 containers of goods to Rota every month, weather permitting, Banzuela said.

Conditions related to Typhoon Vongfong mean it will take about a week before the next attempt to bring goods to Rota, Banzuela said.

Challenging harbor

"Entering the Rota harbor can be challenging, hence the need for good weather to ensure safety of the crew and cargo," said Bernie Valencia, Matson's Guam general manager.

Matson carries some of the goods from the U.S. mainland that Rota needs. The Rota-bound goods are offloaded on Guam, and then transhipped on to a smaller ship that takes the shipment to Saipan, and then on to Rota.

The Saipan Shipping tug and barge have postponed their last few trips to Rota due to inclement weather, Valencia stated.

Prices skyrocket

The shipping delays have caused a shortage of supplies and skyrocketing prices in Rota, Guam's closest neighbor to the north.

Henry Atalig, the resident director for community affairs in Rota, said Monday that Rota's food supply in recent weeks has been air-flown from Guam, making items scarce and raising prices.

Rota's seaport facilities also are in need of upgrades, Banzuela said. The port doesn't have lights for nighttime cargo operations and its crane capacity is limited, he added.

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