Airport runway lights delayed


Unexpectedly slow shipping is delaying the arrival of all the runway lights needed for the Saipan airport, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Barrie Toves.

Toves, who is the Airport Facilities Committee chairman, told Saipan Tribune that CPA has yet to receive all materials and supplies.

“Mid-April, we should be getting all the materials,” said Toves.

He assured, though, that the lights that are already in hand are being installed in a “phase-by-phase replacement” of existing runway lights.

“It is still an ongoing process,” he said.

The runway lights failed three times in the last quarter of 2016 and were set for replacement last November 2016 after CPA discovered that the lights were failing mostly due to age and outside interference.

It was noted by CPA that water has been seeping into the wiring, causing a short-circuit that ultimately burned the wire, thus requiring immediate shutdown to avoid further damage.

The runway lights have been functioning properly since the beginning of 2017. All that is left is for the arrival of the materials and the installation of the new system.

“The electrician is already working on it, which is why CPA has to close the runway from 6am to 5pm so that runway work would continue,” said Toves. “As soon as we receive all the materials, the runway would be finished [soon].”

CPA notified all airlines about the rehabilitation plan in a notice to airmen, NOTAM, around 2010, a few months after CPA secured approval for the runway rehabilitation project in 2009.

The rehabilitation project includes the replacement of runway lights. Overall completion of the rehabilitation project has yet to be seen because of numerous issues and concerns surrounding the project.

Legal disputes between CPA and GPPC Inc., the contractor handling the project, are currently ongoing, with the latter filing a lawsuit due to an alleged breach of contract. CPA declined to comment on whether the rehabilitation project is ongoing or not.

Because of the dispute, the CPA board opted to allocate an additional budget to procure the new runway lights.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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