by Mindy Aguon
Guam - With the announcement that the military buildup will not be completed in the next few years as originally anticipated, the Port Users Group thinks the delay may actually be beneficial for the Port Authority of Guam that will undergo $200 million worth of expansion in the next few years in preparation for the buildup.
PUG chairman Rick Sablan said, "Obviously, we don't have the infrastructure to accommodate that scale of a buildup, so we think the delay might actually be helpful. It will be helpful in that the Port will have some additional time to take care of their expansion so that when the time comes and when the influx of cargo does start to happen we'll be ready, they'll be ready." Sablan says as the largest users of the Port, they want to ensure their needs and concerns are met.
That's why they've been involved in discussions about the proposed implementation plan for the modernization effort. "We the Port Users enthusiastically support MARAD's proposed implementation plan, particularly with the 6.2-acre expansion of the container yard, as we feel that this will enable to the Port to minimize the impact on the cargo throughput to the community particularly during the construction phase. In addition, the increased footprint will ensue that the Port has sufficient capacity when cargo volumes spike during the buildup," added the chairman.
Port management and board as well as MARAD are nearing an agreement on the implementation plan and officials are hoping to turn dirt on the first modernization projects in the next few months. The port has been awarded $50 million from the Department of Defense, as well as an equal amount from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first phase of the modernization effort.