Senator Tom Ada has introduced Bill 216-34 which will reserve four (4) acres of land adjacent to the Port for the construction of a Customs Inspection and Holding Facility/Secured Sterile Area for the use of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA). “Designation of land for the facility is a critical first step toward re-establishing a facility in a secured area where CQA can conduct inspection of cargo containers arriving through the Port of Guam in Piti,” according to Sen. Tom Ada.
It is estimated that approximately 80% of imported commodities come through the Port of Guam in Piti. “Prior to the $50 million reconstruction of the Port operations yard, a warehouse (Warehouse No. 2) was designated as a sterile area in which freight held by Customs was placed, inspected and cleared by Customs”, according to the Chief of Customs Vincent S.N. Perez. As a cost cutting measure, the warehouse was demolished to expand the operating space needed for cargo movement on the Port’s wharf.
“Currently, there is no area in which containers and loose cargo can be properly secured or isolated for proper inspection. Bio-security threats such as invasive species, could be better treated if a facility was available at the Port where Customs can identify, isolate, and mitigate the threats,” added Chief Perez. This facility would also be critical the inspection of shipping containers or vehicles suspected of having stowed contraband, such as drugs. Without the inspection facility, it becomes more difficult to mitigate and prevent the entry of invasive species and contraband once out of control of Customs. “By having a Customs facility re-established at the Port of Guam, this central inspection facility would ensure that cargo, freight, and containers can be properly secured and inspected,” Chief Perez emphasized.
“Although Bill 216-34 seeks to reserve up to four acres of public land for the Customs inspection facility, funding for construction will be the next hurdle to be overcome,” said Senator Ada. He said he is hopeful funding can be obtained from federal grants, and from the Invasive Species Inspection Fee authorized by P.L. 31-43. Although CQA has a mobile x-ray machine to inspect containers, the problem of isolating and securing a container for inspection remains a challenge.
A copy of Bill 216-34 may be downloaded here or the Guam Legislature’s website (www.guamlegislature.org).
For more information, please contact Senator Tom Ada’s office at 473-3301.