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Rehab of longline dock at Malaloa remains on hold due to environmental delays

Port Director Chris King
Port director fields questions on this and other issues during joint budget hearings

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The status of the longline dock at Malaloa, which broke ground in 2019 remains on hold due to federal regulations.

This was statement by the Director of Port Administration Christopher King during budget hearing this past week.

 “We had to put a hold on that project to meet the environmental requirements under the US Army Corps of Engineers.

 “So we did not a get the permit yet from US Army Corps in order for us to do the dredging and the pile driving and so forth, so we're looking at possibly March of next year as when US Army Corps should be done with their process in order for us to get the permit,” he said.

He also confirmed that the funding is available for that project adding that they are following the process. However the funding source is under the Department of Interior and they issue the authorization to proceed.

 “So now we’re in the predicament where we have to wait until the federal process is complete,” he said.

House Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr inquired about the lack of forklifts used to transport loads onto the Manu’atele for cargo for the Manu’a islands.

In response the Director said he just as disappointed as the Vice Speaker.

 “However we need to follow the process that they have. And one of the things I wanted to mention with that particular federal program is the ‘buy American’ clause, which only allows us to buy American products (made in America). 

 “In this case those forklifts need to be American I can't go over here and buy Toyota forklifts because that’s part of the conditions of the grant.

“So we are having issues with trying to find those forklift that need the meet the criteria of the grants and we are getting closer to it but I can't promise you when, but they will have it and its not like we have forgotten about it,” explained the Director.

Regarding the lack of tugboats, King confirmed they are working on purchasing two boats and they are in Honolulu right now.

 “I have my crew that’s been up there in the last couple weeks preparing those tugboats to be sailed down, so that we can put them in operation, as we are operating right now with one tugboat.

 “We expect those tugboats to be here by October as soon as they are done with the work and preparing them to sail for delivery.

Two other vessels that Port is looking at include a large one for Manu’a and another one for Aunu’u.

Port Administration shows a significant increase in the number of employees outlined in its budget for FY 2023.

In FY 2021 there were 84 positions, then it decreased to 82 in 2022, however in the new financial year there are 97 proposed positions.

The Department of Port Administration is divided into three major operations, Seaport Division, Airport Division, and Security and Safety Division. These divisions comprise subdivisions that are to ensure accountability and stability for its major operations and their services to the public.

Under the appropriate fund accounts, the total budget proposed for new Fiscal Year is $3.24 million, the previous year was $3.14 million and in 2021 it was $2.88 million.

A total of $687,000 is allocated for the Director’s office; $509,000 for engineer/ grants and maintenance and $2.04 million for pier sections.

The budget says in 2021 $3.46 million was collected and $1.4 in 2022, but the Department projects that $4.2 million will be collected in the new financial year.

Revenues are collected from cash/ carry billing for incoming and outgoing vessels and tug services for MV Sili trips to Manu’a Island/ pilotage service and reimbursement of over time.”

Under Actual expenditures, for personnel services, materials/supplies contractual services, travel, equipment and all others in 2021 $672,369; 2022 $759,000. For proposed budget the Department anticipates spending $687,000.

Department will spend a little over half a million or $520,500 for total salaries for the new financial year.

According the Department’s website, most cargo handled through the Port of Pago Pago is containerized.

 “Although some break bulk cargo is handled; it is minimal and has little effect on the basic operation or the allocation of space within the port area. The primary cargo is export canned tuna from the two canneries (the largest industry and private sector employers in American Samoa) and materials and empty containers consigned to the canneries. The canneries produce approximately 1,050 TEU’s (twenty foot equivalent units of containerized cargo) of canned tuna per month. Other container traffic consists of consumer goods for the general population.

In addition to cargo activities, support facilities are provided for the fleet of purse seine boats supplying the canneries.

 “These boats require berthing and apron space for re-provisioning and limited vessel repairs.

 “An area is provided where nets may be repaired. The fishing fleet is required to support the canneries and at the same time contribute to the economy of the community.”