‘Getting more construction workers not a want but a need’

Torres pins hope on Kilili to boost number of foreign construction workers

File photo shows construction workers of Junson Construction Mongolia undergoing a project briefing at the construction site inside the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino in Garapan. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

“It’s not a want; it’s a need.”

That’s how Gov. Ralph DLG Torres describes the CNMI’s dire need for more construction workers, citing the several million dollars’ worth of projects that are in the pipeline in the CNMI.

This is where Torres hopes Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) can come in—by working in the U.S. Congress to increase the number of foreign construction workers that will be allowed into the CNMI.

Speaking at a radio news briefing last Friday, Torres noted that, for Tinian Divert Airfield project alone, the CNMI will need 2,000-plus construction workers. Yet the law that Congress just passed relating to construction workers in the CNMI only bumped up the number by 3,000. This means that, for the Tinian Divert Airfield project alone, 2,000 worker slots would already be gone, Torres said. This, he said, underscores the importance of getting more construction workers to complete the projects that are lined up.

“We have a lot of projects. I mean, I can go down the line on what comes to my mind,” he said. For one, the Northern Marianas College has a $100-million project to rebuild its As Terlaje campus. Also, the Public School System altogether at this moment has projects that are roughly worth $230 million. Torres said the Bird Island road project has three phases, with each phase worth roughly close to $13 million, for a total of $36 million. He said the Beach Road project should be starting soon and that’s at least $4 million to $5 million. The governor said the Airport Road project should start very soon and that’s at least a couple of million dollars. Torres pointed out that those are projects on Saipan alone. The mayor’s offices on Tinian and Rota also have projects of their own.

There is also the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s housing program on Saipan and Tinian that continues to roll out, whether it’s renovation or complete homebuilding.

“You know how it is important these construction workers are,” the governor added.

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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