Monday, October 18, 2010

Port celebrates 35 years: Ceremonies, growth plans mark the year

By Shaun Bevan • Pacific Daily News • October 19, 2010

The Port Authority of Guam is celebrating its 35th anniversary by hosting weeklong celebrations that began with a flag-raising ceremony yesterday morning.

"It's a legacy-setting year for the Port itself, because this is the only opportune time that the Port is getting the financial support it needs from the Department of Defense," said Monte Mesa, the Port Authority's chairman of the board. "More importantly, the Port is earning its financial creditability for the loan by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture)."

The Port soon will have access to $50 million of funding from the Department of Defense and an additional $54.5 million loan from the USDA that has yet to be awarded.

The total amount will fund the first phase of the Port's modernization program, which will include:

The expansion of the cargo yard;

Extension of the communication capabilities between cargo arrivals and account billing operations; and Improvement on customer processing to provide better reporting and check-in services. Construction for the first phase of projects is slated to begin in mid- to late-2011 and be finished in 2014.

"We are now faced with a new challenge of (modernizing) the port while tasked with keeping the service levels that the customers are accustomed to," Port General Manager Enrique Agustin said. "I'm very proud to say that the people we have at the Port are up to the challenge."

The Port was turned over by the U.S. military to the government of Guam in 1966, but the Guam law that created the Port as an autonomous agency wasn't passed until October 1975. Although the technology has changed in the 35 years of operations, the mission of the Port is still the same as it has always been, which is to provide quality service to the community, Agustin said.

Other events for the celebration will be scheduled throughout the week, and will end with an awards ceremony on Friday evening at the Hotel Nikko Guam.

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