GUALO RAI Saipan – The Commonwealth Ports Authority dispelled rumors that Northern Marianas Islands airports would be downgraded when the United States Customs and Border Protection takes over Nov. 28.
In an interview with the Journal prior to resigning Oct. 2 Efrain Camacho now-former executive director of the Commonwealth Ports Authority denied rumors about the airport downgrades and said "There’s no move to downgrade any airport. It’s status quo."
The Journal also learned that the CPA has received $5 million in federal grant through the Federal Aviation Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act to be used for the runway rehabilitation project.
"The project is ready to go into construction in February 2010 " said Camacho adding that the project was bid out in September. With the grants approved CPA has received a notice to proceed and may contact GPPC Inc. the winning contractor with a bid of $14 million.
According to Camacho there is a plan for CBP to be on Rota and Tinian. He said CBP wrote to the ports authority June 16 in which it outlined its requirements for offices at all seaports and airports.
Camacho said CPA requested more information. However subsequently the governor’s office decided to centralize all communication to and from CBP through the governor’s office.
He also said that CBP will occupy the same space as NMI immigration is occupying at the Saipan International Airport and at the Rota airport.
As there are no international flights to Tinian yet Camacho said there were no discussions other than reiterating the need for space at that airport at some point in time.
Camacho also said CBP has identified office space in each of the three seaports and three airports.
Asked about the projected costs Camacho said "We don’t have any figures as we don’t have the specific requirements. But I am sure the CBP has the numbers by now." MBJ