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Tinian divert project delayed to ’22

King-Hinds says delay not surprising, but it’s unfortunate as many economic opportunities will be impacted
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The initial bids for the U.S. Air Force’s Divert Facility construction project on Tinian exceeded the U.S. government’s estimate and procurement level, Saipan Tribune learned from a source over the weekend. That, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, means the construction project will not likely begin until 2022.

King-Hinds confirmed the source’s information yesterday, saying the resulting delay is not surprising, given that they warned the U.S. Department of Defense early on in their discussions about the challenges regarding limited housing on Tinian and the need to import labor, among many other issues that will impact the cost of construction because of the island’s location and certain labor policies.

“The delay is unfortunate because there are so many other economic opportunities that will be impacted as a result of this delay and it makes planning even more difficult for those who are looking at investing on Tinian,” she said.

The source disclosed that the work has been descoped by the U.S. Navy and rebid using the large multi-award contract—called an IDIQ contract—with four teams to compete for the award.

In the U.S. federal government contracting lingo, IDIQ refers to indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity.

The source, who requested anonymity, said construction is now targeted for 2022.

“This is bad news for Tinian, because it means the airport reconstruction for international flights is delayed just that long,” the source added.

In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry about the delay, King-Hinds hopes this will open the federal government’s eyes to the challenges that faces the CNMI because of the islands’ remote location and restrictions imposed by “one-size-fits-all” federal policies that work to only further strangle the economy.

“The U.S. should stop making policies that may work miracles in New York but has proven nothing more than an economic grim reaper for the Commonwealth,” she said yesterday.

Last December, King-Hinds disclosed that CPA put out a request for proposals to revitalize its Tinian Marina Dock using a portion of the $1.9 million that is allocated for the improvement of the island’s seaport.

She said the $1.9 million comes from the $21.9 million that CPA received from the DOD for the 40-year lease of certain airport and seaport properties on Tinian for the U.S. Air Force’s divert airfield.

She said the Divert Airfield lease proceeds were intended to make improvements so that Tinian develops the airport to realize the community’s dream of welcoming direct international flights.

She said the $20 million of the $21.9 million is reserved to build infrastructure at the Tinian airport that would allow the accommodation of international flights.

Specifically, King-Hinds said, CPA intends to build a fuel storage farm and infrastructure to accommodate both federal requirements by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration for international travelers.

CPA received the lump-sum payment of $21.9 million in May 2019 after CPA, the CNMI government, and DOD signed the 40-year lease agreement. The deal will allow the Air Force to use Tinian as an alternative landing site for its planes—a divert airfield—in case Anderson Air Force Base in Guam is inaccessible due to war or calamities.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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