IPI staff housing power disconnected

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IMPERIAL Pacific International on Tuesday notified its employees that the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. had disconnected power to their housing units due to the failure of IPI to pay its utility bills.

IPI vice president Tao Xing declined to make a statement when asked about the internal memorandum from management to “all employee housing residents.”

“We regret that, during the current state of challenges we face,” the memo stated, “power to the employee housing properties [has] been disconnected.” These are Miller Estate, Brown House, Lucy’s apartment, Tanapag dormitory, and Chalan Laulau dormitory.

The memo also stated that IPI management is working closely with CUC to have the power reconnected soon.

Variety learned that without power, the pressurized water distribution in the affected properties has also become an issue.

Rep. Tina Sablan, a member of the House minority bloc, said she has reached out to the Commonwealth Casino Commission, the environmental health team of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, and the CNMI Department of Labor.

“We are still in a public health emergency, and hundreds of employees and their families living in intolerable conditions in multiple company housing areas is a concern for our entire community,” Sablan said.

“I urge the casino commission to take all necessary action to ensure that the immediate problem of utility disconnections and unsanitary conditions at IPI housing is addressed as soon as possible,” she added.

She did not say what “necessary action” the commission should take.

Sablan said, “IPI's failure to keep up with payments for even essential services to maintain safe and decent conditions at staff housing, raises more questions about its financial stability, which is so fundamental for compliance with the casino license.”

She said conditions at the IPI housing units are “unsanitary and inhumane: the units are hot and uncomfortable, the residents cannot use the bathrooms, and their food is going bad. There are also children living with their families at some of these facilities.”

She added, “IPI employees have complained to their immediate supervisors and HR, and they have been told to contact property managers who in turn tell them that there is no money to pay for utilities. Yet construction continues, and money is apparently being found for other expenses.”

The casino commission will meet today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. and is expected to discuss the power disconnection at the IPI housing units.

In a letter, Sablan told the commission: “I…hope you will obtain clear answers and a timeline from IPI management as to exactly when this unacceptable situation will be corrected.”

Sablan said CHCC will send a health environmental team to inspect the IPI facilities for health and safety.

The House Gaming Committee in coordination with the casino commission will schedule a hearing on the issue, Variety learned. 

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