Bihute jail water project to start

Highlands, Normal

The National- Wednesday, January 12, 2011


GOROKA resident judge Justice Joseph Yagi has given the Goroka town authority seven days, as of last Friday, to prepare a proper engineering design to supply reliable water supply to Bihute jail outside Goroka.

The design, including scoping and costing of work relating to the installation of dedicated water supply pipe to the prison, should be forwarded to Correctional Services Commissioner Richard Sikani who, within 14 days, will take all reasonable steps to secure adequate funding for the project. 

Sikani was also ordered to fund the installation of three large T uffa tanks with associated plumbing works and pumps at the prison institute.

Yagi also ordered Eastern Highlands health advisor Ben Haili to monitor, inspect and file a report to the Goroka National Court by Jan 24. 

Also on Jan 24, Goroka town manager Yaunggao Uyassi, Sikani or his delegate, Bihute jail commander Francis Gahuye and Haili are to report to court to present evidence whether they had complied with the orders or not.

Bihute, located some 15km west of Goroka town, has been without water for the past five years and as a result, prisoners, prison staff and their families have been affected. 

In these five years, eight prisoners died as a result of the water crisis and provincial disease controller Jackson Apo confirmed that the prisoners died from diarhoeal diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. 

A prison officer said relatives of the deceased could sue the state simply because their right to proper water was denied.    

It was said that women and young girls were harrassed and raped while searching for water.

One young girl died when she drowned in the Asaro River where she and her mother had gone to do laundry. Other warders’ families also use the river for laundry.

According to John Marme, a CS Officer at Bihute, these  rapes and the death would not have occurred if there had been proper water supply. 

Marme blamed the town authority for their suffering saying they did not do their duty.

He described warders’ families lining up in long queues to fetch water from any available nearby creeks as those scenes from African countries like Somalia and Ethiopia.  

Since the costs of such scope of work in installing a separate water pipe from West Goroka to Bihute would cost a lot of money and that the CS recurrent budget allocation would not cater for projects involving huge costs, the judge also directed the Finance secretary to make available 

funds on or before Jan 21for the project.