TEN Correctional Services (CS) officers from the Bomana jail on the outskirts of Port Moresby were suspended yesterday for their absence during the mass breakout in which 57 prisoners, some of them considered as highly dangerous, escaped on Sunday at around midday after the officers allegedly failed to turn up for duties.
CS deputy commissioner Henry Wavik called an urgent meeting with prison officials yesterday afternoon in light of the escape.
Mr Wavik told The National the suspension would come into effect immediately considering the seriousness of the case.
He indicated that during their suspensions, others from the services colleges would be engaged to carry out their duties.
CS suspects that the escapees used what could have been a bolt cutter to cut through the six fences consisting of five cyclone wire fences and one stretched-mass fence, according to Mr Wavik.
He blamed shortage of manpower as one of the causes for the breakout, while highlighting an uneven ratio of 30 officers to 600 prisoners currently faced at the prison.
“It is a massive task we have in our hands looking at the (ratio of) 30 officers to 600 prisoners,” Mr Wavik said.
He added that in spite of “a few negligent” warders, the escape had a great deal had to do with shortage of manpower.
It was also disclosed that unlike the weekly double shifts that the prison practices, on weekends there were three shifts where warders conduct and monitor visits and religious activities during which they escort prisoners.
Out of the 57 escapees, four were recaptured.
The fourth was caught during the early hours of yesterday morning, thanks to the tireless efforts of both police and CS personnel.
From the total 53 who are on the run, 21 are convicted prisoners while the rest are remandees.
Mr Wavik revealed that the convicted prisoners were considered “very dangerous” and were sentenced for committing a string of serious crimes including murder, rape and robbery.
He added that he was also verbally informed on Sunday that one of the escapees was serving a life sentence for committing several crimes.