Baisu faces food shortage

National, Normal

PRISONERS at the Baisu prison outside Mt Hagen are likely to go without food starting today.
This is because Correctional Services Commissioner Richard Sikani has refused to pay supplier Wisky Fresh Limited despite a direction from Correctional Services Minister Tony Aimo to engage the company.
Sources said authorities at Baisu jail were worried about what might happen as food supplies for this month had run out.
The last time food ran out at the jail on Oct 20, about 500 prisoners broke out of the jail. But quick action by warders ensured all the prisoners were rounded up, and returned to their cells.
Whisky Fresh has not been paid for the month of July, August, September, October and November despite supplying the prison its monthly food rations.
The company is contracted to supply the prison monthly, and the supplies are due on the 19th of each month.
Whisky Fresh Ltd managing director Barry Maip has travelled to Port Moresby to pursue payments due.
But on Nov 4, Mr Sikani wrote to him telling him to take his invoices to Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman Bryan Kimmins for payment.
Mr Sikani said in the letter that as far as he was concerned, the company had no legal contract to continue supplying food to the prison.
Only last month, Mr Kimmins accused Mr Sikani of illegally trying to terminate a valid contract for three years that Whisky Fresh had with the CS.
Mr Sikani’s Nov 4 letter came despite a direction by Mr Aimo on Oct 20, in which Mr Sikani was directed to reinstate Whisky Fresh as the supplier of rations to Baisu, following the break-out incident.
Mr Aimo expressed concern about the welfare of both prisoners and warders at Baisu in the letter.
“We are ready to honour the contract. We should be paid our dues. We should continue until such time the Central Supplies Tenders Board decides to review the contract,” Mr Maip said.
Mr Maip is a local from the area near the Baisu jail, and the wish of the local leaders there is for only landowners or local companies to be considered for the supply of food rations to the prison.
It is understood Mr Sikani wants another company based in Hagen to take over the supply contract, and wants Whisky Fresh out.
Both Mr Aimo and Mr Sikani could not be reached for comments yesterday.