The shipment of basic goods to Rota is beginning to normalize, with supplies already arriving at the CNMI’s southernmost island.
A representative of Sinapalo Safeway told Saipan Tribune that they have received their shipment through GPPC, where they split the cost of shipment with the private company.
“Things are going back to normal and a small cargo boat from GPPC transported 10,000 kbs of basic goods to Rota,” the Safeway representative said in a telephone conversation. “We also get some of our commodities from Guam by using a small fishing boat.”
This upbeat sentiment was echoed by Rota Legislative Delegation chair Paul A. Manglona, who affirmed the resumption of shipping services to the island through various community partners.
“Star Marianas Air has been helpful in accommodating cargoes for Rota,” he said. He conceded, though, that air-flown goods are not cheap.
With the opening of Rota’s East Harbor for shallow draft vessels that have roll on/roll off loading/unloading operations, several shipping schedules are already confirmed beginning this week.
Manglona said that the air freight and the opening of the East Harbor was a big help in alleviating the crisis.
Delegation vice chair Rep. Donald Manglona said that he also talked to Friendship Forwarders-Friendship Enterprises Inc. “From my understanding, the first of three voyages is set to sail [on Wednesday].”
“Two [more] voyages are set to sail next week. I am working with Friendship Forwarders to assist our people in getting their products down to Rota,” he added.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority approved the use of Rota’s East Harbor by shallow draft shipping vessels after Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig gave his consent.
Atalig, in a letter to GPPC’s John Reyes last week, authorized GPPC Inc. to use the East Dock for loading and unloading services. “As we discussed in our telephone conversations, I am authorizing GPPC to engage with the above referenced activities.”
“As we all know, we have issues with the West Dock. I am sure that the problems will be solved very soon. In the meantime, the East Dock is available for your activities temporarily,” Atalig added in his letter.
Friendship Forwarders sales manager Noel C. Masongsong, in a letter to the delegation, said their vessel is capable of unloading goods through roll on/roll off system, whict no longer needs the use of a dock crane.
Star Marianas president Shaun Christian earlier explained that Rota’s lack of shipping services is exacerbated by its dock crane not being operable.
That mean Star Marianas planes have to carry the cargo to Rota, affecting the availability of passenger airline seats going to the island.
“Frozen meats and fresh produce are almost sent always via air cargo because shipping schedule is not regular and reliable. So, it gets pretty expensive,” said Manglona.
Manglona earlier asked Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to declare a state of significant emergency on Rota due to a brief shortage of food products and other basic commodities that could threaten public health and safety.
A delegation resolution he introduced a few weeks ago highlighted the crisis and prompted Star Marianas Air to transport 5,000 lbs of urgently needed goods to Rota from Saipan.
Harvest, Lucky Store, Sunshine Variety Shop, and Three Kings Market are some of the other shops on Rota that sell basic commodities.
Rota experienced consecutive weather disturbances, including Typhoon Mangkhut that devastated the island in September last year.