COTA breaks ground on administrative building

Posted on Aug 24 2020


The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority broke ground last Thursday in Lower Base to lay the foundations for its new administrative building and maintenance facility.

According to special assistant for Public Transportation Alfreda P. Camacho, COTA worked with the Office of the Governor’s grants management team to put together a grant application with the Federal Transit Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation for $6.38 million. Camacho says this grant will fund the construction of the entire building, along with the purchase of 12 buses and 30 prefabricated bus shelters not only for Saipan, but also on Rota and Tinian.

“Having a home base means so much. It solidifies the efforts that we have put in the last nine years and, to finally see a building is a testament to show that public transportation isn’t going anywhere. We’re here to stay for the CNMI,” said Camacho. She related that COTA only had two drivers nine years ago, in 2011, but now has 20 operations personnel.

The proposed completion date for the building is Oct. 2, 2021, but Camacho urged cautious optimism about this date, considering that the upcoming months are considered “typhoon season.”

Alfreda P. Camacho of the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority, eighth from left, and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, ninth from left, joins other officials for the groundbreaking ceremony for the COTA office building last Aug. 20 in Lower Base, Tanapag.

“We can’t tell, given it is typhoon season right now, [but] we’re hopeful that…with the partnership that we have with Department of Public Works, RNV [Construction] who are the contractors, and GHD Inc. who is our construction management team, I know that they will do their very best to ensure that the completion date is followed,” said Camacho.

According to GHD Inc. Saipan’s office manager Andre A. Tenorio, the maintenance facility will include an integral maintenance bay with two maintenance bays and one service bay, a backup generator, a water tank with a non-potable water, washing area for buses, parking spaces, site lighting, site security fencing, etc.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios closed the ceremony by applauding COTA for its hard work and determination for being around when the CNMI needs it the most. “When the pandemic hit Saipan…nobody wanted to be around anybody. Yet our drivers took that lead, that risk…and they continue to sacrifice their lives every day,” said Torres. “This is not just transport. You don’t just call and say I need a ride. There’s more to it. We want to make sure you’re secured when they drive for you, that when my mom calls COTA, I know that she’s being transported the right way, and the safe way.”

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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