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  • Writer's pictureBy Joyce McClure

PAG begins procurement process for Hotel Wharf upgrade project

The Port Authority of Guam’s $10-million Hotel Wharf rehabilitation and Highway 11 roadway reconstruction projects are one step closer to being awarded.

A construction-phase pre-bid conference was held on Aug. 2 for the projects, which are funded by a combination of federal grants and bond proceeds, said Rory Respicio, general manager of the Port Authority.

The upgrades to Hotel Wharf are designed to bring it into compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard criteria to regain certification as a designated waterfront facility and expand wharf capacity to alleviate any congestion at the main cargo terminal.

Managed by GHD Inc. under a contract with PAG, the twin projects are targeted for completion in May 2023. They are a component of PAG’s $181-million capital improvement plan.

It seemed fitting that the members and guests attending the Rotary Club of Northern Guam began their meeting on Aug. 4 with a hearty rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the lead-up to Respicio’s presentation.

Rory Respicio

Respicio’s update of the Port’s ongoing 2020 Master Plan was as enthusiastic as the singing of the assembled businessmen and women, especially when he reported on the results of the agency’s organizational climate survey that invited 356 employees to anonymously tell their opinion about working there.

The response from 317 personnel showed overwhelmingly positive results in job satisfaction and that “morale is at an all-time high,” Respicio said. It also showed that 99 percent of those who took the survey feel positive that “management has an open-door policy and the Port is a great place to work.”

In addition, 91 percent said they were positive that management is “fair,” while 93 percent are positive that management is “transparent”; and 92 percent believe that management is “accountable.”

This favorable report card was gained despite the last, very trying year due to the challenges of Covid-19.

The organization “remained 100 percent operational” to ensure that the supply chain was uninterrupted, Respicio said.

Segueing into a look at the Port during the pandemic, he explained how the agency “sprang into action to take every step possible to protect the employees, tenants and the people of Guam.”

Those actions included setting up a dedicated clinic at the port, installing Plexiglas dividers in offices, sending out frequent e-advisories to keep employees informed and updated, delivering care packages to employees who were impacted by the virus, establishing a contact tracing team and nationally certifying employee volunteers to help “ease some of the burdens placed on the Department of Public Health and Social Services by conducting their own contact tracing and making arrangements for testing.”

Citing the importance of the agency’s employees and partners in realizing the agency’s vision “to modernize the Port as a first-class facility in the region providing cargo handling services in a safe, efficient and sustainable manner; to promote economic growth and opportunities for maritime-related industries; and to address the needs of port users,” the Port’s citizen-centric report for FY2020, that was handed out to attendees during the presentation, notes the “willpower and strength” of Port employees to always persevere in times of crisis.

The informal presentation concluded with a rundown of the status of bond- and grant-funded projects, action items and future opportunities contained in the agency’s FY2018-2022 capital improvement plan scheduled for FY2020-2025.

Besides the H Wharf project, Respicio also gave updates on the ongoing procurement process for the repair and improvement of the Golf Pier; replacement and relocation of the waterline; repair and upgrades at Warehouse #1 and the EQMR building.

The Enterprise One Financial Management System was completed on May 18, and, the new administration annex building, “while the least of our priorities,” Respicio said, remains a component of the master plan.

Obtaining grants for other projects has resulted in the EDA awarding PAG a project award in July for the F1/Golf Pier fuel line connectivity project; a FEMA Public Assistance-funded project that has been awarded to a contractor for repair of the fendering system; the awarding of a contract for the removal of derelict crane equipment; a MARAD-approved joint Guam/CNMI Route & Project Designation application marking the route as the 27th in the nation; the opening of bids in mid-July for CCTV and ACS upgrades; OIA-awarded projects for the repair and upgrade of the welding shop; and many others.

Respicio invited the Rotarians to “visualize” what it would be like to enter the facility today that handles around 1 – 2 million tons of cargo a year in the largest U.S. deepwater seaport in the region with five cargo-handling piers and three marinas.

Re-painting of the seawall and various buildings that was completed in July, and ground improvement projects, have improved the site considerably, he said.

Current action items on the agency’s list include a series of meetings “to collect stakeholders’ perspective and input on the PAG’s master planning effort”; “digital implementation of data and information sharing/reporting between stakeholders in the supply chain”; enhancement of the IT structure “to promote more efficient interface and operations within the Port”; a feasibility study of Area A to “develop potential alternative and best uses of the existing area”; a solar power feasibility study; the identification of tariff simplification solutions; the assessment and updating of a comprehensive environmental, health a safety program; and upgrading, rehabilitation and repairs of all PAG assets.

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