Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian) wants to require all gas stations in the CNMI to provide free compressed air, a gauge for measuring tire air pressure, and free water—as stated in Senate Bill 21-9 that he introduced.
The bill will be up for discussion in today’s meeting of the Senate Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communications Committee, together with S.B. 21-14, introduced by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), to make sure the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. won’t overcharge their consumers for water usage after Super Typhoon Yutu.
S.B. 21-9 states that compressed air and water are essential services in order to make sure of the safe operation of motor vehicles. Gas stations generally provide these services but fail to maintain them and, when these equipment no longer work, many gas stations do not repair them.
“The availability and access to air and water services are necessary for the safety of motorists on the road, especially in emergencies. Therefore, the purpose of this act is to require all gas service stations to have free compressed air and water,” states S.B. 21-9.
Section 101 states that every CNMI gas station should provide free compressed air, a gauge for measuring tire air pressure, and water services to the public for use in their respective motor vehicles during hours of operation.
The CNMI Department of Commerce, in Section 102, would be required to have a customer complaint telephone hotline not later than five days after the bill is signed by the governor. Customers can report through the hotline any gas station that does not offer these free services to the public.
DoC employees, upon inspection or notice of a complaint, are given the authority to investigate the customer’s report and cite the gas station. They can also collect a $250 fine for every valid complaint unless the citation is challenged in court.
“No citation shall be issued if the air and water equipment are in good working order upon initial inspection, or if they are repaired to the satisfaction of the inspecting entity within 10 calendar days of the initial inspection.”
No citation shall be issued if the service station can establish that the equipment has been the target of repeated vandalism. The vandalism must be substantiated with valid police reports. Provided, however, that the service station shall restore the required service within 10 calendar days of an inspection or the date of the vandalism incident.”