The Department of Public Works temporarily stopped yesterday the Department of Public Safety and its contractor Big Bell from doing repair work on one of DPS’ buildings in Susupe upon discovery that they lack a building permit from DPW.
DPW Secretary Martin Sablan, in an interview with Saipan Tribune, said the department asked Big Bell to apply for and secure a building permit from DPW before it can proceed with the building repair.
“That was a stop-work order from DPW,” said Sablan.
DPS Commissioner James Deleon Guerrero, in a separate interview yesterday, said the lack of a DPW building permit was an “oversight” on the part of their contractor, Big Bell.
“The contractor ceased the repair and is now coordinating with DPW to get a permit,” Deleon Guerrero said.
Deleon Guerrero said the work involves mostly “replacement of termite-infested walls” and there’s no significant modification to the building.
Just the same, Deleon Guerrero said DPS and the contractor have been communicating with DPW to comply with the latter’s requirements of securing a building permit first before doing any building construction or repair work.
He said the building was built in the ’50s, and badly need a lot of repair. However, because of limited funding, the repair is done on an “incremental” basis, the DPS commissioner said.
This phase of the repair project costs under $10,000, he added.
The issue was brought up—in passing—during the signing of a proclamation declaring Sept. 15 to 21 Child Passenger Safety Week on Capital Hill yesterday morning.
“We are just enforcing the building permit requirement,” Sablan said.
Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider said this only shows that government agencies such as DPW are doing their job and are applying their requirements equally, whether the ones involved are private entities or government agencies and their contractors.
“And we need to right the wrong,” he said.
Sablan, when pressed on the issue, said he was just passing by the DPS compound in Susupe yesterday morning when he noticed some construction being done to one of DPS’s buildings.
“I didn’t recall signing off on any building permit involving DPS so I checked with the office. That’s when we discovered there was no building permit. That’s how it started. We asked them to stop the work until they get a DPW building permit,” Sablan added.
Many CNMI government buildings including the ones belonging to DPS were built 50 or 60-plus years ago, and many need major repair.