Board: CUC shouldn’t be at mercy of contractors


Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board chair Adelina Roberto and vice chair Eric San Nicolas said CUC should not be at the mercy of contractors as they and other directors expressed concern with the potholes that CUC is causing on the roads in villages on Saipan due to its water leak-repair program.

“The thing about it is we cannot be at their mercy because the revenues that we received come from the ratepayers. We have to wisely use that money,” said Roberto during CUC’s board meeting on Thursday.

San Nicolas said CUC does not cater to the contractors.

“We should be catering to the service that we provide to the people, right?” San Nicolas said.

Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang recently reportedly expressed alarm over CUC’s failure to repair several potholes in villages caused by the utilities agency’s leak-repair program.

At the board meeting, CUC acting executive director Gary Camacho disclosed that as far as CUC’s road repairs project is concerned, they have a $250,000 contract that they are waiting to be completed.

Camacho said the project is being advertised right now to identify contractors.

Camacho is referring to CUC’s invitation for bids from qualified companies for their island wide restoration for waterline repairs on Saipan.

The work consists of excavation, placing of flowable fill, and asphalt to replace pavement areas cut by CUC to repair waterlines.

Camacho said once a company is awarded with the project, there will be a lot of repairs on the roads caused by these road cuts.

Camacho asked how much CUC spent last year on road cuts, to which a CUC staff replied it’s near $200,000.

The acting executive director said some of the road cuts remain there for quite some time because the contractor, Hawaiian Rock, will not patch a small amount but wait for a number of cuts.

Camacho said it is his understanding that there are times that there is just a need for a small amount to patch and that it’s not economically sound for Hawaiian Rock to process their big equipment for a small amount of asphalt.

San Nicolas pointed out that CUC should not be catering to the contractor.

San Nicolas said if CUC needs to take the $200,000 costs in order to buy its own equipment to do the patching, he is willing to support that.

“We cannot be at the mercy of the contractor,” he said, adding that there is a need to maximize the service that benefits CUC, residents, and its customers.

Camacho said he does not speak for Hawaiian Rock, but that he would imagine they would be more than happy to cater for each and every road cut.

However, Camacho said, the cost is going to be extremely high because there are going to have a minimum amount that they have to make in the box machine.

Roberto said it is economical for the company, but not economical for CUC.

“When there is a minimum of 10 [cuts] that’s when they patch?” Roberto asked.

Roberto said they cannot continue to give contractors that it’s always their benefit and not the benefit of CUC because they’re giving them, guaranteeing them $250,000.

“When you prepare the package, Hawaiian Rock is aware of what is there that they gonna patch, right?” the chairman asked.

San Nicolas said the companies provide the service at CUC’s scope of work, and not at theirs.

“That (potholes) creates inconvenience to customers, that creates problems to the customers,” San Nicolas said.

Board treasurer Joe Torres said the fact that it’s expensive CUC still needs to repair the roads.

San Nicolas said they need to stop this one-sided contract. “That’s why we have the Mobil issue, that’s why we have the Docomo issue,” San Nicolas said.

Board member Ignacio Perez said in order to cut the discussion, Camacho should provide the board the scope of work that they have in this contact now so the board can amend it.

“Let us see what do you have or what you have negotiated with. And let us know what that is so we can approve or act with another one with an amendment,” Perez said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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