The Commonwealth Ports Authority faces another delay in resumption of work on the $4.9 million sewer line after Pacific Drilling Ltd., the contractor of the project, sought an additional payment amounting to $1.9 million.
Board member Roman Tudela immediately warned CPA construction manager Efrain F. Camacho that the ports authority can no longer afford to shoulder cost for the much-delayed project.
Some 1,000 households are expected to benefit from the sewer line connection which will run from Saipan International Airport to Agingan Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The $1.9 million demand was supposedly for demobilization cost but a preliminary review by the ports authority shows that only $200,000 is a legitimate claim.
Camacho said the contractor may begin work on the project in February next year. During the board meeting, he said Pacific Drilling has agreed to drop the claim to $400,000 but he hopes to reduce the cost further.
With limited funds, the ports authority would like to avoid any change order which has dragged on for months. CPA and CUC recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement which would pave the way for the completion of the project.
Under the MOA, the utilities firm has agreed to shoulder 70.6 percent of the project cost amounting to $3.5 million while the remaining 30 percent will be charged to the operating and capital improvement costs of Saipan International Airport.
The Division of Environmental Quality has sought the immediate completion of the sewer line project because of increasing bacterial contamination in ground water thus, adversely affecting the safety of people’s health.
According to DEQ, the airport overlies one of Saipan’s major ground water aquifers which provides a major portion of the island’s water supply. Recent sampling results from nearby wells confirm the rise in nitrate concentrations toward maximum safe levels for human health as well as the presence of microbiological contaminants.