Torres cites need for local companies to beef up construction force

Guam construction companies are welcome as there’s a lot of projects

With millions of dollars in federal funds that the CNMI is receiving, there is a need for more construction workers, and Guam companies are welcome to assist in completing many projects not only Saipan, but also on Tinian and Rota, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres last Friday.

Speaking at a radio news briefing, Torres said the CNMI does not have enough construction and skilled workers so they have been advocating this to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and even to Washington, D.C. for the last several years, specifically since Super Typhoon Soudelor and Super Typhoon Yutu on Saipan and Tinian and Typhoon Mangkhut on Rota.

“I’m happy that that they…allowed us to have 2,000 construction workers for recovery on Yutu,” he said.

One of their biggest success was putting back the Philippines on the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2B visa program. That effectively allowed the CNMI to hire construction workers from the Philippines. “That is a great help,” Torres said.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstated the Philippines on its list of countries allowed to participate in the H-2B visa program, soon after Torres appealed to DHS to allow the reinstatement.

In the request, the governor cited the CNMI’s “severe” demand for Filipino construction workers as the economy needs more workers to develop and rebuild the community after a series of disasters.

With that, Torres said Friday that they look forward to local construction companies here beefing up their manpower because of the $240 million that’s been allotted for disaster relief programs.

Torres said the CNMI also has a couple of hundred million dollars on public assistance.

Torres said they’re also getting more funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Office of Insular Affairs. He said there’s several other programs that are coming in such as the $11.2 million for rehabilitation of Garapan roads.

“So we hope that in the next several months leading up to year, to a year and a half, [there will be] more construction workers and companies around. We welcome companies from Guam to come in and assist,” the governor said.

Torres said the CNMI needs the construction workforce so they’re working with the Northern Marianas Trades Institute to also prioritize construction.

Because of the pandemic and other disasters like Yutu, Torres said they’ve been working on making sure that the goals and the visions of NMTI fit what they need in the CNMI, to give opportunities to local residents.

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
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.