Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chuuk State Principal Leaders meet with President Mori on Weno road project issues

FSMIS (November 27, 2013): On November 23, Chuuk State Governor Johnson Elimo and House of Senate President Mark Mailo met with Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Manny Mori in Palikir, Pohnpei.

The two Principal Leaders for the State of Chuuk approached President Mori with a clear agenda over very recent issues regarding the road project on Weno Island.

The road project contractor, the Pacific International Inc. (PII), had been handed a contract termination notice by the Project Management Unit (PMU) at the FSM National Government, essentially ordering PII to cease operation and move ahead with contract termination. PMU claimed that its decision was based on certain section of the contract agreement with PII which reserves the right for PMU to terminate the contract based on a determination of non-compliance and inability to ensure project completion within specified terms.  

At their meeting, Governor Elimo informed President Mori that the Chuuk State Leadership recently met to consider the status of termination issued against PII. He further explained that the Leaders decided to take up the matter with the President as they believe the situation now warrants issues far beyond purely engineering and technical discourse.

Specifically, Governor Elimo stressed the position of the Chuuk State Leaders that the FSM Government allows PII to continue as the contractor based on the following reasons:

1.   The road construction project is a significant factor at the center of the State's budgetary landscape. Removal of this factor without certain and immediate replacement will drastically impact the budget.
2.  Contracting of another company to replace PII may potentially take a long time before actual ground work is resumed. There is no guarantee that the next contractor will “do a better job”.  

President Mori expressed his appreciation of the difficult situations regarding the whole complex Weno road project saga. However, he highlighted that the President does not and should not interfere in the implementation and professionally/technically-based decisions pertaining any specific infrastructure project. He further stressed that the underlying common objective shared by stakeholders was for the project to be brought to completion within an acceptable timeframe and that Leaders should, as much as possible, keep the project free of political weight.

Senate President Mailo and Governor Elimo concurred with President Mori’s observations and spoke of the need to move beyond fault-finding and focus on how to securing project completion with as minimal adverse impact as can be.

Senior PMU officials later joined the Leaders at the meeting to respond to inquiries. In the end, it was decided that PMU and PII will have another face-to-face and renegotiate with the instruction that PII should present in writing a “counter offer” detailing how it plans to execute the completion of the remainder of the project.

The PMU will determine the nearest opportune time to meet with officials from PII and Chuuk State Officials to hash out how to best address everyone’s concerns.
A recent press release from PMU states that PII has been provided a revised offer that extends completion date by 281 days beyond the previous completion date of November 25, 2013 and increased the project price by $1,761,076.07. PII has until December 6 to respond to the offer.

The meeting between President Mori, Governor Elimo and Senate President Mailo availed the opportunity to also discuss other matters of importance including telecommunication reform and sport facility project.

Governor Elimo and Senate President Mailo were accompanied by Mr. Jesse Mori, Director of the Department of Administrative Services, Mr. Johnny Meippen from the Chuuk State Attorney General’s Office, and the Legal Counsel for the Chuuk State Legislature.

President Mori was assisted by Chief of Staff Leo Falcam Jr., with input from Mr. Bruce Howell and Mr. Dana Smith from PMU.

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