The public works department on Thursday ordered Imperial Pacific International to cease work on the Garapan hotel-casino construction site due to a lack of record engineers and security inspectors.

Imperial Pacific International’s chief engineer Eric Poon listens during Wednesday’s Commonwealth Casino Commission meeting.

Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

It was the third work stop that DPW issued against IPI. The first was issued on October 9, 2020 and the second on December 29, 2020. Both were due to the lack of registered engineers or EORs and safety inspectors.

DPW announced that the third work stop order had been issued as 15 days had passed and IPI had still not met the requirement to have EORs and safety inspectors on site.

Andrew Yeom, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Casino Commission, reminded IPI Chief Engineer Eric Poon on Wednesday that Amendment No. 6 to the Casino Licensing Agreement provides IPI with until February 28, 2021 to complete the Garapan hotel-casino project.

Poon provided the commission with a copy of a progress report on the construction of the hotel-casino and reported that the IPI construction team has 14 executives, 171 H2-B employees and 15 local employees.

Of the foreign workers, 28 from Turkey will have to leave the island before the end of the month as their H2-B visas will expire.

These workers have not been paid for eight payrolls since October 9, 2020, Yeom said on Wednesday.

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Casino Commissioner Ramon Dela Cruz reads a report during a meeting on Wednesday.

Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Commissioner Ramon Dela Cruz then said to Poon: “That’s why I still wonder [how you are] You can keep building if you don’t pay your workers. “

Yeom told Poon that it was “alarming and very worrying” that, given the shortage of workers due to IPI’s non-payment and DPW’s work stoppage orders, IPI’s time to meet the deadline is running out.

“If there is no further change [the licensing agreement]Obviously there is a serious breach of contract. So I advise you to speak to the required agency, ”said Yeom, referring to the CNMI Lottery Commission.

“You have to solve this. Please do something about it, ”Yeom said to Poon.

Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, chairman of the Commonwealth Casino Commission, said if IPI determines that the project cannot be completed in the next month, IPI will have to make a request and notify the Casino Commission.

In a separate interview, Mark Rabauliman, chairman of the CNMI Lottery Commission who is also Secretary of Commerce, said that they cannot “take” a request from IPI if there is no chief executive officer.

Only the company’s CEO has authority to represent IPI and make a request, he added.

IPI has offered the position of CEO to former Senator Ray N. Yumul, who said the discussion was still ongoing. When asked if he would accept IPI’s offer, he said: “We will see.”