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CUC cuts power to IPI barracks

Sablan says it’s shameful and totally unacceptable
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From cutting power to the casino in Garapan, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has now cut power to the different housing properties of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC on Saipan, leaving many IPI employees living in these sites without working air-conditioners and refrigerators.

A copy of IPI management’s internal memorandum for all employee housing residents issued last Tuesday showed that power was disconnected at the Miller Estates, Brown House, Lucy’s Apartment, Tanapag Dormitory, and Chalan Laulau Dormitory.

The memorandum assured IPI employees who are affected by the power disconnection that IPI management is “working closely” with CUC to have the power reconnected soon.

As of press time yesterday, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for IPI’s comments about the disconnection and how much the company owes CUC.

When asked yesterday, CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho declined to disclose how much IPI owes and for how many months the company is behind in payments. “Customers have the right to privacy. That’s like you don’t want me talking about your accounts, unless you want me to,” Camacho said.

Saipan Tribune learned that since there are no generators at these properties, employees, including those living with their children, have no power and water supply.

In a statement yesterday, Rep. Tina Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said that, with IPI failing to pay its utility bills for its company housing, the CNMI now has on its hands “a humanitarian and public health crisis” affecting IPI employees and their families, including children.

Sablan said there is no generator so there is no power or water. “Their food is going bad, and they can’t use their bathrooms,” she said, yet even as IPI employees and their families “are suffering in unsanitary and inhumane conditions, IPI continues with construction and its pursuit of other projects.”

Sablan said there is money for some things, but maintaining essential services necessary for healthy and sanitary conditions at company housing seems to not be a priority. “This is shameful, and totally unacceptable,” she added.

Sablan has asked the leadership in the House of Representatives to hold a hearing with IPI and the Commonwealth Casino Commission. Sablan said she has also been reaching out to CCC as well as IPI management.

The lawmaker said she has notified the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. about the problem and that CHCC replied that they’re sending an environmental health team to check on the matter.

“There is a serious problem here. We are still in a public health emergency, and intolerable conditions at IPI company housing must be resolved as soon as possible,” she added.

IPI has admitted that it is currently in a financially precarious situation, has experienced difficulty even paying its electricity bills, has had trouble meeting its payroll, and is likely to shut down.

Last May 19, CUC cut electric power to IPI’s casino in Garapan and at IPI’s office at Vestcor on Capital Hill for non-payment of bills. Camacho earlier stated that power will be reconnected after IPI pays its bills.

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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