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Puerto Rico fuel truck drivers exempt from curfew

By on September 28, 2017

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has signed Executive Order 2017-053, with amendments to the process of granting government contracts and making the fuel management process more flexible with the purpose of fostering Puerto Rico’s “recovery” eight days after the devastating passage of Hurricane María.

The order exempts those transporting fuel from the curfew so that between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., when people are required by law to remain in their homes or shelters, can distribute gasoline and diesel throughout the island, at a time when long lines form at gas stations. The fuel transportation providers will also get security when performing their distribution duties.

“Fuel is flowing and is being facilitated and will be further facilitated as the provision, which already was in the previous executive order, is [adopted], but now we are making it explicit so there is no doubt that operators and transporters can operate in this context,” the governor said when announcing the order at a press conference.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, left, signed two executive orders intended to control Puerto Rico’s emergency after Hurricane María. He is accompanied by Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín. (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

He reminded haulage contractors that the number to call for those who want to collaborate with the transportation of supplies is 469-401-9605, for which a cellphone must be utilized, as the system allows for text-messaging to provide information on the drivers.

He added that he requested a waiver from the U.S. Transportation Department to exempt people with driver’s licenses (categories 7 through 9) from needing “the certification or endorsement for the transport of fuel” to be able to drive public service vehicles.

The order also provides that the Consumer Affairs Department (DACO by its Spanish acronym) establish with the private sector which gas stations are designated for the exclusive use of hospital, bank, telecommunication, food industry, security, pharmacy, solid-waste, ice production, senior home, funeral, and small and midsize business employees who offer service to the public. The aim is to reduce their wait time when filling their vehicles with gas.

After insisting that “there is fuel” on the island and urging “patience” from citizens to address the emergency, Rosselló requested the Treasury Department exempt trucks that supply gasoline and diesel from paying taxes.

The executive order also exempts government contractors, agencies and entities from government hiring regulations.

During the hurricane emergency period, contracting obligations and conditions must be in writing, but in the case of contracts, these can be published after 30 days at the Comptroller’s Office. Agencies have 90 days after the emergency period ends to require the hiring documents.

Government entities may also be exempted from complying with the requirements for the lease of private property, provided that the contracts do not exceed June 30, 2018, the day the current fiscal year ends.

Following the announcement, the governor said that of 533 gas stations open Wednesday, by Thursday 689 were operating, which is expected to shorten the long lines thousands of citizens make to get gas.

He said that in addition to the 574,000 barrels of diesel and 738,000 barrels of gasoline available, in the next few days more than 300,000 barrels of diesel and over 400,000 barrels of gasoline are expected to arrive. “Summarizing those numbers, there is fuel in Puerto Rico and more fuel is coming,” he reiterated.

Gov’t creates Peace Officers Corps

The governor also signed a second executive order, EO 2017-052, to create the Peace Officers Corps, authorizing a group of federal officials on the island to make arrests and have similar duties to those of local law enforcement officers.

The purpose of this order is to support the police in security matters. Public Security Secretary Héctor Pesquera will be in charge of “swearing in, naming and appointing the Peace Officers,” as well as assigning them support missions. The officers will be governed by the same regulations as state law enforcement.

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