COVID-19 hampers IPI construction progress

Excavation started for reburial of hundreds of ancestral remains

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a vast impact on the construction progress of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s casino/resort project in Garapan, according to IPI vice president of construction Eric Poon.

Poon reported at the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s board meeting last Thursday that they are short of skilled labor and unable to schedule manufacturing technicians/inspectors to come to Saipan because of flight suspensions and quarantine restrictions.

As for their H2B workers’ visas, Poon said ongoing visa interview process remains unchanged as U.S. embassies have not released any further information. U.S. embassies worldwide suspended all ongoing H2B visa interviews until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For construction, Poon said that IPI currently has 350 H2B workers and 120 workers from local manpower agencies, for a total of 470 workers. In addition, they have 15 on the management staff side. Of the 350 H2B workers, 125 are Mongolians; 105 are Taiwanese; 89 are Turkish; 28 are Australians; and three are Thai nationals.

Poon disclosed that IPI and the Historic Preservation Office are aiming to complete the reburial of the ancestral remains next month, July. He said the excavation of the site where hundreds of ancestral remains will be reburied has already started.

As for the hotel tower, Poon said interior fit-out work is in progress at levels 3 to 13, while exterior steel subframe installation is also in progress at Level 14. He said waterproofing installation has been completed at level 15 Zone A, while waterproofing installation at Zone C is still in progress.

This month, Poon said, Alimak elevator on elevation I (south) and tower crane No. 4 are scheduled for disassembly.

The resort hotel or the 14 villas have already been completed.

He said Phase 2 construction at level 3 to 13 at the tower hotel is in progress and is expected to be completed on June 30, 2020.

Poon said Phase 3 construction at Level 2 VIP gaming and Level 14 sky level started in June 2019 and is targeted to be completed on Sept. 30, 2020.

He said the beach club construction started in October 2019 and is expected to be completed on Dec. 31, 2020.
The meeting was held via video conference.

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

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