Acting governor Arnold I. Palacios and the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority on Thursday led an official handoff of an accessible van to Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig for transportation services for man’amko and persons with disabilities on Rota as part of COTA’s expansion of services on Rota and Tinian.
Following the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut on Rota and Super Typhoon Yutu on Tinian in the fall of 2018, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, then-Senate President Palacios, and the CNMI leadership recognized an urgent need to expand transportation services on the two islands for alternative forms of transportation, specifically for the elderly and persons with physical disabilities. This prompted COTA to coordinate with the CNMI Disability Network Partners to acquire an American with Disabilities Act-accessible vehicles for the communities of Rota and Tinian.
The amount for these two ADA-accessible vans is $204,990. Through the collaborative efforts with the 20th Legislature led by then-House of Ways and Means chair Rep. Angel A. Demapan, $150,000 was appropriated to fund these vehicles, while $59,990 came from the COTA’s local revenue collections. Tinian is scheduled to receive their van later this month.
“May this vehicle assist with Rota’s community needs today and for the future, as we work together to expand the public transportation service here,” said Palacios. “Our commitment remains as we begin the work up ahead with upcoming infrastructure projects that includes a maintenance facility and fleet for Rota in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.”
Alfreda C. Maratita, the special assistant for Public Transportation and head of COTA, said that there were already discussions about having accessible transportation on the island of Rota eight years ago, since the creation of COTA through Public Law 17-43.
“Thank you to Gov. Torres and acting gGovernor Palacios for prioritizing these efforts and supporting the much-needed services for the elderly and those with special needs and/or disabilities on the island of Rota. Special recognition to Mayor Atalig and his amazing support team for the hospitality and continued partnership on Rota. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude to our dear residents of Rota, the CNMI Disability Network Partners, representatives, and your families for your patience and understanding as we worked through the process of successfully procuring this transit vehicle for all residents to get where you need to go conveniently and safely. Let this vehicle serve as a symbol of our commitment and continued support as we journey forward together and strengthen our ties with one another as more and more public transit opportunities flourish through the beautiful island of Rota,” Maratita said. (PR)