The Commonwealth Ports Authority does not oppose building a new harbor on Rota but it warned the government of the potential impact of the project once it fails to determine ahead of time its various pros and cons.
Ports authority executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that the result of a study commissioned by the government is critical to any decision on the project.
Engineering company Moffats & Nichol was recently selected by the CNMI government to conduct the Rota East Harbor feasibility study, which will determine if it is viable to develop another harbor on the island.
Both the Rota Legislative Delegation and the Rota municipal government are pushing for the building of a new harbor to accommodate bigger ships.
Deleon Guerrero described this feasibility study as the “right direction” for everyone to know if pushing through with the project is meritorious. “CPA is in support of that east harbor project provided they will do everything that is needed to be done.”
“We welcome that feasibility because that's the right direction. This study will tell us what we don't know and what we need to know before a decision is made. Because at the end of the day, when it comes to port of entry.it will all be under CPA,” said Deleon Guerrero.
According to him, the area identified for the proposed east harbor is not CPA property but is public land. Once the new harbor is built, this has to be dedicated as a port of entry before it can be operated by the ports authority.
The CPA chief disclosed that the project, if found feasible, will be funded by the CIP monies. However, Deleon Guerrero pointed out that CPA must be a participant in the planning process as it will involve ports activities.
Rota's elected officials have tossed the idea of developing the east harbor due to the current challenges in shipping commodities and other supplies to Rota. The existing west harbor has limited capability in its channel and cannot accommodate vessels longer than 235 feet.
The only way for the port to be able to accommodate bigger vessels is by widening its channel opening, which will require $15 million, according to a study conducted by ports authority.
Ships going to Rota currently use the west harbor, which CPA officials earlier described as somewhat “calmer” and “more sheltered” compared to the east side of the island.