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Government owes $2 million for egress

By Raquel Bagnol SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 21, 2010) – In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), unless the government can pay about US$2.7 million in rent and road compensation immediately, a private landowner is planning to close the highway in Puerto Rico in front of an IT&E facility and all the way to the Saipan Ice & Water Company intersection this week.

Enrique K. Seman, administrator for the heirs of Rita Rogolofoi, yesterday said their patience had ran out after being given the run-around for so long by the government.

Seman said Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja issued a judgment on May 12, 2009, ordering the government to pay over US$2.1 million to the Rogolofois for taking two lands in As Majetog in 1976 and 1992.

The Rogolofois haven’t received a single cent.

"There is nothing we can do but to close the road since it runs through our private land," Seman said.

He said they had talked with officials of the Department of Public Lands (DPL), joined countless forums and sent several letters published in the newspaper but "nothing happened."

"If the government will not pay us, we have no choice but to reclaim the property," he added.

Seman said motorists going to Tanapag can turn left near the Shell gasoline station in Puerto Rico and head toward the back road that passes the Saipan port.

Commuters going to Capital Hill can continue to use the main highway since it will not be affected by the road closure, Seman said.

"We don’t want to do this and inconvenience the commuters going north but we have no choice. We can’t sit around waiting forever for nothing," he said.

In March 2006, Seman threatened to block the same road.

Naraja, in his ruling, ordered the government to pay US$112,241.98 to the Rogolofois with a prejudgment interest of 7.724 percent for taking a portion of the Rogolofois property in 1976.

Naraja said the government should also pay US$2,010,234.72 with a prejudgment interest of 6.991 percent for taking a portion of the Rogolofoi land in 1992.

The court stated that the amounts will bear an interest of 9 percent per annum from the judgment date.

The government was likewise ordered to pay the Rogolofois US$567,543.37 representing the amounts DPL received from the businesses leasing the land in the area, including IT&E, Saipan Ice & Water Company and the Commercial Trading of Saipan.

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