Military construction updates:
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. was awarded April 1 a $36.04 million firm-fixed-price task order under a Multiple Award Construction Contract, or MACC contract for the construction of a warehouse at Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz in Guam.
Work is expected to be completed by July 2024. Fiscal 2022 military construction (Navy) funds were obligated at time of the award. The task order was competitively procured, with four offers received. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific made the award.
In other MilCon news, Black Construction/Mace International JV and SJC-BVIL LLC of Montrose, Colo., were awarded April 1 a combined $10 million modification to previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts. This modification provides additional construction services at Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 23, 2023. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Far East in Yokosuka made the award.
NMI sees best month in years for visitors
Arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota grew 2104% to 4,188 visitors in February, compared to 190 visitors in February 2021. ”It is still a significant decrease of 89% from [the] 38,049 received in February 2019,” the Marianas Visitors Authority said in an April 4 release.
Most visitors in February arrived through a travel bubble with South Korea – the largest source market of the Northern Mariana Islands prior to the pandemic – with 2,821 visitors arriving. In addition, there were 842 visitors from the U.S. and 382 visitors from Guam.
Arrivals are anticipated to continue to increase with the expansion of flight service in the coming months. As of March 21, all inbound passengers to Korea are no longer required to quarantine. That is expected to further drive travel demand, MVA said.
In other news from the NMI:
Fitch Ratings has affirmed the ‘BB’ rating on approximately $18.3 million of outstanding Commonwealth Ports Authority senior series 1998A and 2005A seaport revenue bonds, with a “Stable” rating outlook.
In its March 31 decision, Fitch said it considered “the essentiality of the ports to a small, island economy amidst high exposure to economic volatility from tourism and a nearly 100% import-based cargo operation.” The rating also considered CPA’s sustained revenue performance and history of controlled expenses, it said. The ports once handled nearly twice as much cargo and are in satisfactory condition to deal with current and forecasted demand, Fitch said.
Star Marianas Air said April 4 the airline signed a five-year Blanket Purchasing Agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense “to provide on demand inter island air transportation services to DOD personnel traveling between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.”
For SMA to qualify for acceptance into the program, DoD air transportation inspectors traveled to Tinian in October and conducted extensive on-site evaluations of SMA’s maintenance facility on Tinian and its flight operations on Saipan and Tinian,” the airline said.
“This is a significant affirmation of SMA’s maintenance and flight operations. Receiving approval from the Commercial Airlift Review Board puts SMA among a select group of airlines that are authorized to provide flight services to DOD personnel,” Shaun Christian, president of Star Marianas Air said.
For other Star Marianas news on the demand for flights between Rota and Guam, see https://www.mbjguam.com/2022/04/04/dont-pack-the-bags-just-yet-flights-between-islands-not-scheduled/
Japan funds WHO outer islands COVID efforts
The World Health Organization, the Government of Japan and the governments of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Palau are partnering “to enhance COVID-19 preparedness and response in the three Pacific islands countries.”
The Government of Japan is providing US$ 697,101 funding through WHO, with the project focusing on remote and outer islands in the three countries, according to an April 4 release.
Palau faced a temporary surge of active cases from December 2021 to March, resulting in nearly 4,000 cumulative cases all reported in 2022. While the Marshall Islands has reported only four imported cases in 2020 and FSM has had no cases so far, it is likely that the virus will eventually enter the countries at some point, the WHO said. The Marshall Islands, FSM and Palau, have implemented measures including effective border controls, preparing intensive care unit beds and isolation units, and, more recently, rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, the WHO said. “However, people living in outer islands in the Pacific are at greater risk if COVID-19 hits, due to shortage in health workers, facilities and services in these remote areas and the difficulty in accessing the main islands for these services.”
The one-year project will strengthen and establish national emergency medical teams, provide logistics and capacity building support, preposition critical equipment and supplies, and engage with health workers and the communities in the remote islands.
Japan and UNICEF partnered for vaccination of children in the FSM in 2021.
Hotel announces “brand refresh”
The Hotel Nikko Guam, a Premier Hotel Group property and a member of Ken Corporation Group, announced April 1 it plans a brand refresh in stages in 2022.
The refresh will position the property as an “Effortless Eden,” where service and quality will be enhanced with the hotel’s key values – Ease, Escape, and Ensure, according to a release.
Yusuke “William” Shinozaki has been appointed acting general manager of the Hotel Nikko Guam.
The Nikko opened in Guam in 1992. The Premier Hotel Group property was purchased in 2008 by PHR Ken Micronesian Inc. and has 492 guest rooms, according to Journal files. Prior to the pandemic, it employed about 400 people, and has won numerous awards in its years of operation. The Nikko is one of the few hotels that offers an ocean view from each of its guest rooms.
Fisheries and reef conservation initiative launched in Palau
The Palau International Coral Reef Center signed a contract with Palau Conservation Society to implement the Fisheries Management Project in Koror State.
PCS will take the lead on the project with local Koror State fishers and the Koror State Department of Conservation & Law Enforcement. The center will research and monitor the fish species in Koror State waters, to guide decisions by Koror State and provide information on the resource conditions and how they are changing over time in response to active fisheries management. The work is being enabled by the global Resilience Reef Initiative, which supports World Heritage-listed coral reef sites.
RRI is also working with PICRC and other local partners to “design and deliver integrated solutions that build the resilience of coral reefs and the communities that depend on the reefs,” to include the addition of a Chief Resilience Officer at the center.
Guam driving alert
The Office of Highway Safety at the Guam Department of Public Works, the Guam Police Department’s Highway Patrol Division, the Guam International Airport Authority’s Airport Police, the Port Authority of Guam ‘s Port Police, the Judiciary of Guam, the Office of the Attorney General, are partnering with the Insurance Association of Guam’s “Heads Up Guam” campaign to conduct “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
According to DPW’s Office of Highway Safety the campaign is running from April 4 to April 11 and is funded by a grant. The “high-visibility education and law enforcement” campaign participants will “stop and ticket” anyone caught looking at their phone. mbj