Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shipyard Misuse Sparks Ire of Guam Legislator

Guam territorial Sen. Jim Espaldon had demanded an immediate answer to why Port Authority of Guam officials allowed a barge to load commercial cargo– against state law– at the non-PAG-controlled Guam Shipyard.

In a letter to PAG general manager Leon Guerrero, Empaldon– one of 15 locally elected senators that make up the territorial legislature– made no secret of his displeasure at the situation.

"Now that a precedent has been set, what steps [is] the Port taking to stop the Guam Shipyard from again loading commercial cargo and functioning as an alternative port?" wrote Espaldon.

Guam law prohibits the use of any island facility other than those operated by the PAG for commercial purposes.

Empaldon also asked for confirmation on the amount of revenue the PAG lost, citing "sources" that told him it was more than $250,000.

The senator raised the specter of cuts to the $200 million remodernization program that the PAG is in the midst of, saying such investment should not be needed if the shipyard is actually competing with the port.

"We can downscale and not have to take out loans," wrote Espaldon. "Why are we being asked to raise tariffs, when we are turning away income?"
Port officials reiterated earlier promises to investigate and answer all questions about the situation.