The Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. has been asked to help with getting a van that would be used to transport persons with disability and the elderly on Rota.
In a letter dated Aug. 18, 2019, Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) wrote NMPASI board chair Charles Rivera to ask for financial assistance to bring a Call-A-Ride van from Saipan to Rota.
Although the van is still pending approval at the Governor’s Office, Santos told Saipan Tribune that she sent the letter in order to help expedite the new service on Rota.
“It has come to my attention that there are plans within the central government to provide the island of Rota with one Call-A-Ride van. I am pleased to welcome this asset to our island,” she wrote Rivera, adding that the vehicle could comfortably seat eight passengers, which altogether increases access to transportation and services to the residents of the southernmost island of the NMI.
The catch, according to Santos, is that the Rota Legislative Delegation must cover the shipping cost of the vehicle from Saipan to Rota, which she told Saipan Tribune would cost between $2,700 and $3,000.
“With the CNMI government’s current financial challenges, I am afraid that Rota cannot shoulder the cost of shipping on its own. To that end, I am respectfully requesting the NMPASI board of directors’ assistance in covering the cost of shipping [one van],” she added in her letter to Rivera.
Rivera confirmed with Saipan Tribune the receipt of the letter. However, he said that funding is tight for the non-profit, federally funded organization since the purpose of how its budget is used is restricted.
“We are currently still reviewing the details with the board members and our staff on how to help,” he told Saipan Tribune.
The Rota delegation is currently in debt and has received word from Finance Secretary David Atalig that they owe the central government a little over half a million.
Santos noted in a previous interview that the delegation was told to temporarily halt passing appropriation bills until they settle their balance with the central government.