Port GM testifies in favor of customs inspection facility legislation

Port General Manager Rory J. Respicio (PNC file photo)

Port General Manager Rory J. Respicio testified Thursday in favor of legislation that would extend the deadline for Guam Customs to develop a customs inspection facility.

Respicio released the following statement:

“Governor Leon Guerrero, Lt. Governor Tenorio, and our board continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to doing whatever is necessary to advance the interdiction of illicit drugs, invasive species, and counter-terrorism, and this project is another example of our commitment.”

“The Leon Guerrero Tenorio Administration committed in its transition report that the Port and Customs will mutually agree to the 4-acre site within the first 30-days of taking office,” Respicio testified.

“In January 2019, we reviewed the Port’s Master Plan. The Port Board concurred with Customs’ proposal to place this facility near the Weight Scale House, located near the Port’s gatehouse. This location is ideal for both the Port and Customs. This location will allow Customs to thoroughly scan and inspect incoming and outgoing containers and secure all suspicious cargoes that threaten our island’s safety, security, and biosecurity.”

Respicio said that on February 5, 2019, the Governor announced the new location.

“The Governor and Lt. Governor secured a $1.6M federal grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment to update the Port’s 2020 masterplan and included a feasibility study for the Customs Container Inspection Facility as part of the Port’s 2020 masterplan update. This grant was awarded in September 2019,” Respicio said.

Additionally, Respicio noted a stark improvement in the working relationship between the Port and Customs. “Our first directive was to ensure that Customs’ officers have an all-access pass to go anywhere and everywhere to inspect cargo coming into the Port. We moved Customs into a much larger work area, more than doubling their administrative workspace, and provided them shared use of the vehicle washdown station as well as shared access to the Container Freight Station (CFS Building).”

Respicio said that the Port is also working with oversight chair Senator Telena Nelson and Vice-Chairperson Senator Mary Torres to develop a security protocol providing concurrent jurisdiction between Port and Customs. This security protocol will expedite Customs’ uniformed law enforcement personnel’s clearance into the Port’s terminal yard.