Guam – The legislature is requesting that the Governor proclaim a Declaration of Emergency to aid in the ongoing DPW Bus Crisis.
Senators feel this will expedite the procurement process and get the buses back on the roads. Currently only 40% of DPW’s buses are operating and safe for the roads.
According to Senator Tom Ada, Chairperson on the committee on transportation and public works, “We have a situation here that probably warrants a declaration of an emergency situation by the governor.”
Last night Speaker Judy Won Pat told members of the legislature, DPW and the public that the immediate problems with DPW’s school buses warrants a declaration of emergency. Ada says the primary reason for the declaration of emergency stems from Point number 14 of the adequate public education act, that ensures all public students have a regular, timely school bus transportation to and from the school.
Ada says, last night hearing was to follow up on the cost estimates for the maintenance and repairs of DPW’s school buses. DPW was able to identify $220,000 for the cost estimates for repair parts on the 36 buses that were identified during the August 20th meeting. DPW was also able to identify $150,000 within their department budget to fund the procurement for these repair parts.
According to Ada, “Some of these parts are not available on island and it may take up to 6 weeks before any of these buses get repaired. That’s not satisfactory, it will be Thanks Giving and the kids will be on vacation before these buses are repaired, we have to take a more timely action and get the buses back on the roads.”
Speaker Won Pat determined that a declaration of emergency could expedite the procurement of the necessary repairs and services and to cut through the bureaucratic red tape to get the buses repaired.
Won Pat says, “This is an emergency and when the governor declares it an emergency he immediately can access $250,000 without going to the legislature. You won’t need to go out to get three price quotations, you just go out and get what you need and get it repaired.”
According to DPW Deputy Director Jesse Garcia its always been the government’s budgetary constraints that limits DPW’s ability to order equipment or supplies for the upkeep of their bus fleet. He says two representatives from private bus companies testified that DPW would need a bigger budget to keep up with their fleet.
Jesse Garcia says, “The fleet that they (the private companies) operate is not even half of DPW’s fleet and their budget to maintain their fleet is five times the amount that DPW was given as the budget to maintain their buses.”
Garcia says DPW is currently operating within its means and he feels if DPW had the proper funding things would run smoother. He says the legislature needs to look at DPW’s budget for bus maintenance and operations.
According to Garcia “We can only do so much, with what they give us. What we are trying to do is stretch that dollar and there’s only so much that it can stretch. The budget they are giving us is 85,000 and thats not enough.”
According to Garcia during last nights hearing, senators recommended that DPW director Andy Leon Guerrero ask the governor for a declaration of emergency. But According to the Governor’s office, it’s up to the legislature to help find a solution to this crisis.