Mongolia workers arriving; IPI also hiring from Turkey

Dragon chandelier installation now complete

About 40 H2-B workers from Mongolia will start to arrive this week to help finish the construction of the delayed Imperial Palace casino/resort project in Garapan.

Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is also considering hiring more construction workers from Turkey.

Eric Poon, IPI’s assistant vice president of construction, disclosed the employment of such H2-B workers during the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s hearing yesterday at the commission’s office at the Springs Plaza on Middle Road.

Poon also disclosed that he himself is getting the furniture ready to ship to the island for the anticipated opening of six of the 15 suites or VIP villas of Imperial Palace this Sept. 30.

“It’s very exciting…seeing so many activities, especially for the landscaping area,” said Poon in his presentation on the construction’s progress.

He said Phase 1 of the project—the resort hotel—is in progress and the forecast completion is Dec. 31, 2019.

Poon said that, in July, they had 374 H2-B workers and 212 subcontractor workers, for a total of 586 construction workers. Poon said 15 others are management staff.

He said their Thai workers’ H2-B visa application is pending for the visa schedule appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. The U.S. Embassy has yet to schedule the visa appointments of these Thai workers, Poon said.

In response to CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero’s question as to why the U.S. Embassy has yet to schedule the appointments, Poon said he does not have information on that and neither does their Human Resources Division.

Poon said they are talking about 40 to 50 Thai workers in that H2-B visa application.

IPI successfully hired 19 Thai workers a few months ago.

Right now, with the H2-B visa applications of their Thai workers still pending, Poon said their alternative is the H2-B workers from Mongolia, who will report for work beginning this month, August. He said about 40 H2-B workers from Mongolia are arriving this week and next week. He said the first batch of workers from Mongolia will arrive this week and that they are now getting their tickets to fly here.

“They are the skilled labor. So the first batch would be more like the supervisors,” Poon said.

The second batch is composed of workers that “will basically follow the supervisors.”

When asked by acting CCC chair Joseph C. Reyes if IPI is also bringing in workers from Turkey, Poon confirmed that they also considering that.

“We are working with our people over there. Yes, we are,” he said.

Poon assured that these workers will only be here temporarily. Reyes replied that it’s up to IPI as it is none of his business.

CCC executive director Deleon Guerrero pointed out that it now appears that IPI has 686 construction employees. He asked Poon if that number is enough to finish six of the 15 planned villas by Sept. 30. Poon said that it’s definitely not enough, which is why they continue to hire more workers.

With respect to IPI’s construction milestones schedule, Poon said Phase 2, the tower hotel, is in progress and that the forecast completion date is June 30, 2020.

He said Phase 3, the VIP gaming and sky level, started last Jan. 6 and that the forecast completion date is Sept. 30, 2020.

He said Phase 4, the Beach Club, started last Jan. 10, with a forecast completion date of Dec. 31, 2020.

Poon said Addison Global Interiors, a construction company based in the U.S. mainland, is doing all the high-end stonework for the presidential villas and extended suites.

Poon said the task is to complete the work before the Sept. 30 target opening of the six suites.

Outside the main building, 50 to 60 workers are doing landscape work and building retaining walls. Poon said the retaining stone walls are eventually being readied for the Sept. 30 opening.

Poon said the dragon chandelier installation has been completed, but they still have a lot of testing and commissioning work to do. He said they are actually ahead of schedule with the dragon chandelier installation.

He described the dragon chandelier as “a perfect showcase” to investors they flew in last week. He said they are planning to have a program to officially unveil the dragon chandelier.

For the resort hotel, Poon said the revolving door installation at the hotel’s main lobby is now complete, while the stone floor polishing and crystallization work are in progress.

He said interior fit out is in progress at the east wing VIP gaming rooms.

Poon said the marble stone installation work is in progress at the east wing suite.

He himself is working right now on furniture inventory to make sure that they are getting all the furniture ready to ship sometime this month in preparation for the Sept. 30 partial opening of the VIP villas.

As for the hotel tower, he said people are talking about IPI hiring Italians and Australians. “Yes, they are here and they are working very hard to try to get the building façade complete. Again, it is in progress,” he saidt.

Poon said Cavcorp Australia Pty Ltd., an Australian company, has 60 Italian workers working on the building’s façade.

He also disclosed that earth work is in progress on the main swimming pool.

Poon said the Department of Public Works granted the employee dining room kitchen a conditional certificate of occupancy permit.

The Division of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also conducted a storm water inspection at the IPI project site last Monday.

Last April, IPI chief executive officer and president Mark Brown disclosed plans to partially open the Beach Villa Resort, a seafront development beside the casino complex.

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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