Ahh…the ferry topic again. I’m glad someone brought it up. While this would be great I can see the concern the feds have with it. Also, I’d like to see if it’s possible to have a cruise type ship where we can go from island to island. The picture above is a picture of a ferry in Washington (don’t get your hopes up just yet).
Sen. Paul A. Manglona (R-Rota) has pushed anew the idea of establishing regular ferry service between Guam and the CNMI with the impending military buildup, as well as the permanent presence of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel on Rota and Tinian in light of federalization.
The senator said tying the islands’ economies through reliable ferry service could be mutually beneficial to both territories.
Manglona was among those who submitted written concerns to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan during his first town hall meeting on Rota Thursday night.
“A feasibility study must be conducted before we can take this idea to the U.S. Congress. I will continue to work with our local leaders on gathering data for a comprehensive study and hope that you may be able to work on garnering support for this project in Congress,” Manglona told Sablan.
He also asked Sablan to work with his colleagues in the U.S. Congress to include Chinese and Russian tourists in the joint Guam-CNMI visa waiver program.
“As we continue to work in brining in charter flights from Japan and Korea to Rota, we must keep open other existing markets in Russia and China,” he said.
The Rota senator said failure to permanently station U.S. immigration and Customs and Border Protection personnel on Rota and Tinian “could spell economic disaster to our island and its people.”
“Without such a presence, visitors to our islands may be unduly burdened and delayed and we run the very real risk of losing direct international flights into Rota,” he said.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority has expressed concerns over the lack of local funding for needed infrastructure but Manglona said by working with Sablan’s office and the relevant federal agencies, Rota and Tinian could see permanent presence of federal immigration and customs personnel on these islands.
Manglona also lauded Sablan for introducing H.R. 3397 or the Northern Mariana Islands College Access Act of 2009, which would grant financial assistance to CNMI high school graduates in the form of in-state tuition at any public college or university in the United States.
‘Put monument on Rota’
Manglona, in his two-page letter, asked that Rota be considered as the site for the proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Visitors Center.
He said Rota has worked hard to build and brand itself as an eco-tourism destination and it would therefore fitting to put the visitor center on the island.
Manglona said Rota’s proximity to Guam would also allow Guam residents and visitors quick and easy access to the center.
“Moreover, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is presently working on a Habitat Conservation Plan to address the needs of the many endangered species on Rota. Perhaps, a Marine National Monument Visitor Center on Rota could help mitigate the impact the Conservation Plan will have on our island,” Manglona added.
By Haidee V. Eugenio