Monday, September 10, 2007

Outsourcing of port operations can't be put off any longer

There is a critical piece of legislation currently being considered by senators, one that will have a major impact on the island's infrastructure and the upcoming military buildup. Bill 165, by Sen. Tony Unpingco, would outsource the management and operations of cargo-handling equipment at the Port Authority of Guam.

During a public hearing on the bill, Port General Manager Ken Tagawa noted the success of similar management contracts at other utilities. The Port Users Group, an organization of businesses that rely on Guam's civilian port, supports the measure, noting it would allow the port access to greater resources for cargo operations.

Although the bill is a scaled-down version of a previous attempt to more comprehensively outsource port operations, it still is a step in the right direction. Outsourcing is very much needed and long overdue.
A recent federal conference on Guam highlighted the importance of improving the port for the planned military expansion on Guam, but upgrades would also benefit the entire community. The shortfalls in current port infrastructure were made clear, as was the government of Guam's inability to make the major improvements necessary.

As an island community, we simply can't afford not to upgrade our port, and the sooner we can get it done, the better.

The best way to make this happen is to bring in a private partner, one with the experience and finances necessary to make the major changes needed, and to make them within the strict timeline required. The military expansion projects are on a schedule and won't wait; we need our port facilities to be able to handle the increased influx of cargo that will be coming into the island.

The failure of the government of Guam to implement outsourcing at the port earlier can be rectified now with the passage of Bill 165. The island's elected officials need to recognize the importance of this measure and expedite the process.