88 IPI construction workers to leave by end of this month

EIGHTY-EIGHT of the over the 200 construction workers of Imperial Pacific International will have to leave by the end of this month because their H-2B visas are expiring.

Taiwan construction worker

A construction worker from Taiwan performs a landscaping job at the IPI hotel-casino in Garapan in November.

Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

The IPI construction management team has reiterated its commitment to finish the casino and hotel resort project in Garapan.

Casino License Agreement Amendment No. 6 gives IPI until February 2021 to complete the construction.

The IPI construction team said 60 workers from Taiwan and 28 from workers Turkey whose H-2B visas are expiring have to leave the island by the end of January.

IPI engineer Jonathan Tsai said they are now in the process of acquiring a new construction team and securing a funding source for the completion of the project.

“There are exciting developments,” he said, but added that he cannot disclose them right now.

IPI chief executive officer Donald Browne, for his part, said, “We have some people who are going to invest in our company.”

“There are a lot of people with eyes on us and are backing us,” he added.

After a three-week stop work order in October due to lack of certified safety inspectors and engineers of record or EORs at the construction site, the Department of Public Works allowed IPI to resume work in November after receiving the documents pertaining to the EORs.

Last month, however, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division informed IPI that it was “debarred” from receiving H-2B labor certifications for a period of five years from Nov. 22, 2020.

IPI engineer Jonathan Tsai said the casino investor can and will resume construction activities.

He said they already have a new safety inspector and quality control team and is in the process of hiring the EORs.

“We have interviewed many different engineers and we are now in the process of choosing one. We have received six to seven proposals,” he said, adding that DPW has given IPI time to finalize the EOR contracts.

The engineers are from the CNMI or Guam, he said. “And they are all U.S. certified. If they are not certified we won’t talk to them,” Tsai added.

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