The National, Monday, May 16, 2011
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
THE 101 prisoners and correctional service officers at Bui-Iebi jail in the Southern Highlands have been living in the dark since last Monday.
The electricity supply to the prison camp was cut off after people living near the junction of the road leading to the jail stoned a power transformer and damaged it last Monday morning.
This was a second blow for the important government’s institution after six armed men held up prison guards on May 4 and freed 91 prisoners and emptied the prison armoury of guns and ammunition before escaping.
Jail commander Felix Nomane said last Friday the prisoners had been badly affected because there was no water in their toilets or in the mess for cooking.
Nomane said there was no power to pump the water from the main to the jail compound and its staff houses.
He said PNG Power was reluctant to repair the damage because this was the second time locals had damaged the transformer.
He said they could not continue to operate without power.
Nomane said the jail’s stand-by generator had broken down last November and was still out of service.
He asked the provincial government to intervene and help.
He said if the problem was not fixed quickly, they would shut down the jail and transfer all inmates to other jails in the region.
Nomane said the prisoners and correctional officers and their families used buckets to fetch water from the nearby Yebi river for cooking, drinking and for the toilets.
He said the lack of water posed a major health hazard for everyone at the institution.
Two convicts and seven remandees freed by the armed men voluntarily surrendered to the jail.
Nomane thanked their family members and the community for encouraging the escapees to return to the jail.
He expects more escapees to surrender this week.
Eighty-two escapees are still at large, with three assault rifles, two shotguns, a gas gun together with ammunition yet to be returned.