ASG News Briefs
TERRITORIAL HIGHWAY PROGRAM FUNDS CANNOT BE USED FOR ROUTINE ROAD MAINTENANCE
Under the Provisions of Title 23 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) (Public Law 112-141) $40 million is authorized for the Territorial Highway Program (THP) for fiscal year 2013.
MAP-21 reassigned the THP to Section 23 U.S.C. 165(c) and made other modifications to the program.
For fiscal years 2013 and 2014, the administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been the delegated authority to carry out the program established in 23 U.S.C. 165(c) and has set the following distribution formula for the territories:
American Samoa — 10%
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) — 10%
Guam — 40%
U.S. Virgin Islands — 40%
This was detailed in a letter to Tualauta faipule Rep. Larry Sanitoa from Clifford L. Chew, Territorial Representative of the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
Chew explained that “funds from the THP may be used for the Surface Transportation Program (as revised by MAP-21), preventive maintenance, and ferry boat facilities, to name a few. However, funds from the THP cannot be used for routine maintenance.”
Chew said the Department of Public Works is currently amending the Territorial Transportation Improvement Plan (TTIP) to identify projects that can be funded for FY2013 and FY2014.
“The TTIP should be providing a multi-year listing of territorial projects and identifying those projects slated for federal funding,” Chew wrote. “In addition, the TTIP should be utilizing existing transportation plans, policies, and programming processes.”
Chew said the FHWA “looks forward to working with the DPW to ensure that federal funds are used for projects that best benefit the traveling public of American Samoa.” He added that they plan “to be involved in the planning phase, through project development, and once construction begins, ensuring that projects meet the contractual requirements and expectations of the agency.”
He said Sanitoa’s concerns about the road conditions of Tualauta District “are warranted” and important to the FHWA. “In Hawaii, we have the same challenges with our infrastructure where sub-base problems and potholes are prevalent” he noted.
Copies of Chew’s letter were forwarded to Congressman Faleomavaega Eni and the Fono’s Legal Counsel Henry Kappel.
SENE EXPLAINS ASTCA PROGRAM IMPEDIMENTS FOR FIRST QUARTER OF FY2013
Executive Director of the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) Aleki Sene Sr. says that like most enterprises in the territory, ASTCA experienced a sharp drop in its revenue collection efforts during the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 (October - December 2012).
This was noted in the semi-autonomous agency’s performance report that was submitted to Fono members last month.
According to Sene, at the end of the first quarter of FY2013, ASTCA had already obligated over $1 million in system upgrades and capital improvement projects. He explained that ASTCA capital improvement projects are funded entirely from revenues it generates through various telecommunications services it offers to the public and this means a project cannot start or be implemented unless adequate funds have been collected.
Sene explained the very expensive requirements they are bound by and said ASTCA is required to follow FCC Accounting Rules (Part 32) for the regulated portion of its business. This is in addition to certain unique technical standards that ASTCA must comply with in its local switching equipment for law enforcement support. Furthermore, ASTCA’s Local Exchange Carrier is required by the FCC to offer Equal Access to qualified long distance carriers doing business in American Samoa.
On the wireless side, Sene said ASTCA must comply with CALEA requirements using GPS technology for mobile positioning and tracking. It also has to provide the necessary hardware and software interfaces in its local switches to support CALEA and FCC requirements for law enforcement support.
During the first quarter of FY2013, ASTCA turned up one additional cell site to expand its cellular network coverage.
“In spite of the very high costs associated with these requirements, ASTCA is very confident that it can bring its local and wireless systems into compliance with these FCC rules within the allowable timetable,” Sene wrote. He concluded, “ASTCA believes this condition is directly related to the closure of Samoa Packing, the down sizing of StarKist Samoa, and a weak local economy in general. ASTCA hopes this condition will reverse in the very near future as new industries are attracted to do business in American Samoa.”
ABANDONMENT OF VESSEL UNLAWFUL
Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau is sponsoring a bill that makes it unlawful for anyone to abandon their vessel, and it has been assigned to the Port Administration Committee to Vice Chair Senator Faumuina Tagisiali’i.
The bill states that a person may not store of leave a vessel in a wrecked, junked or substantially dismantled condition or abandons upon any public water or at the harbor in the territory with the consent of the agency having jurisdiction of the water, port of harbor or docked at any private property without the consent of the owner of the property.
The Port and Administration Department or Department of Public Safety Officers may remove derelict vessel from public waters in any instance when the vessel obstruct navigation, contributes to air or water pollution or in any other way constitutes a danger or potential danger to the environment or public.
A vessel that has been left unattended for a continuous period or more than 30 days and is in the waters of the territory of public property without authorization of the owner or occupant of the property may be taken into custody by the Port Administration or DPS and the owner will be notified in compiance with the law and is subject to disposal.
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