By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE ousted Minister for Correctional Services (CS) has blamed the breakout of 12 hardcore criminals from Bomana maximum security unit on the governments poor management and lacklustre up-keep of prisons.
Hours before being removed from office and being replaced by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Tony Aimo said security at prisons was compromised due to insufficient funding for manpower and upgrades.
“These prisons were built in the 1950s and 60s. Criminals today are much more advanced. If we want security and peace, we need to demolish and rebuild most of our existing prisons.
“See for yourselves. The barbed wires are rusting, we really need to build stronger prisons,” he said.
Mr Aimo said prisoners were now more intelligent and innovative.
“The CS needs to make definite improvements which can only come with funding,” Mr Aimo said.
“We asked for K76.9 million for thi syear’s budget and were given K65.3 million. Our proposed allocation would include addressing some of the issues, including maintenance of operations and rehabilitation including the recruiting of younger CS officers.”
The Bomana CS currently has 202 officers, a third of them are administration staff.
Acting commissioner Henry Wavik said prison facilities nationwide were overcrowded.
CS Commissioner Richard Sikani supported Mr Wavik’s views before he too was suspended.
“Between 1960 and 1975, when our population was 1.5 million, we had 800 prisoners.
From 1979 to 1995, our population increased to three million people and we had 3,500 prisoners.
Today, we have 6,500 prisoners and our population is about six million.,” Mr Sikani said.
“When Bomana was built, it had 350 beds. We have more than that number of prisoners now. Baisu in Mt Hagen has only 450 beds but there are 1,000 inmates. In Boram in East Sepik province, the prison was built to hold 120 inmates. It is now overcrowded with 800.”