DPW allows IPI to resume work, but…


The Department of Public Works has allowed Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC to resume construction work at levels 3 to 13 of the Imperial Pacific Resort building in Garapan after IPI complied with DPW’s Building Safety Code Division’s requirement.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s monthly meeting at the Springs Plaza last Tuesday, DPW BSCD representative/inspector Gani Salazar stated, though, that IPI cannot work on level 14 of the tower hotel unless IPI submits shop drawings and its revised plan for that floor.

Salazar said they expect to lift the stop-work order by the end of business day that day, Tuesday.

IPI received the stop-work order from DPW last Oct. 27.

In that order, DPW suspended all construction work from Level 3 to Sky Level 14 of the tower hotel until shop drawings and revised plans are submitted to and approved by DPW’s Building Safety officer. DPW also suspended all welding work until special inspectors are on board and approved by the Building Safety officers.

At Tuesday’s CCC meeting, commissioner Mariano Taitano questioned why DPW would lift the stop-work order on that day when IPI has yet to submit some construction documents for approval. Salazar explained that there are two violations and that IPI has already complied with one.

In the first violation, BSCD required IPI to submit shop drawings and revised plans for approval for tower hotel’s levels 3 to 14.

In the second violation, IPI allegedly failed to select and obtain approval for an approved agency (special inspector).

BSCD required IPI to submit the name of the company selected as its special inspector, and that the company must have a certified welder, electrical engineer, architect, and mechanical engineer on staff. BSCD said the special inspector company is subject to approval by the Building Safety officer.

IPI also allegedly failed to submit approved special inspector reports and tests from June 2019 to present.

BSCD said IPI must submit a special inspection report for September and October 2020.

Salazar told the commission that with respect to the second violation, IPI has complied by having Guam-based DR Safety as the main contractor and is teaming up with another company.

“Those are engineers that will oversee the construction operation and they will certify the reports done by the workers,” Salazar said.

He said if there are no special inspectors on board, IPI cannot proceed. For example, Salazar said, if DR Safety informs them that they are no longer connected with IPI tomorrow for non-payment of services, then DPW would need to issue a stop-work order again.

He said they are doing periodic inspections to make sure DR Safety is working properly because they are basing their reports on what DR Safety will submit. “Public Works must be aware that everything that’s being done out there is in compliance with the Building Safety Code,” he pointed out.

Salazar said that in their meeting on Monday, DR Safety’s partner company assured that they are going to do their best. He disclosed that IPI had no special inspectors for the longest time, yet it continued working. “We gave them so much time to provide special inspectors, but they failed. That’s why we issued the stop-work order,” he said. But this time, Salazar said, these engineers of record do understand their responsibility—that the safety and compliance with the Building Code is very important.

CCC chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said they have been reaching out to DPW in the last four to five years because they want to ensure the quality of Imperial Pacific Resort’s structural integrity. Deleon Guerrero said they’re a little bit disappointed with the prior engineer of record because they weren’t on the site all the time. He said Amendment 6 of the Casino License Agreement requires IPI to work with DPW in terms of a weekly schedule.

“It started out well, but I don’t know what’s the status of that right now,” Deleon Guerrero said. He asked Salazar to follow up on this concern regarding the need for frequent meetings with DPW because this is a valid concern.

Deleon Guerrero also questioned how IPI will be able to pay DR Safety when IPI cannot even pay its current employees. “And that’s an issue that we did not get an answer from IPI,” he said.

In a separate interview, IPI chief executive officer Donald Browne said that almost everybody at IPI is furloughed right now. “Those like myself that aren’t furloughed, we’re not getting paid either but we have to represent the company,” he said.

With the lifting of the stop-work order, Browne said this signals their return to construction work but then there is also the funding of their payroll. “We’re happy as long as we can pay our employees to get back to work,” he said.

Browne said that in conversation with DR Safety, they are willing to wait for payment of services.

He pointed out that IPI’s casino has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Browne said there is another loan agreement being worked on, but that he does not want to comment on that.

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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