By FRANCIS POKA
WABAG National Court judge Justice Graham Ellis has ordered Enga Governor Peter Ipatas and acting Correctional Service Commissioner Henry Wavik to explain why the Mukurumanda jail is closed.
Mr Ipatas and Mr Wavik are to appear in court next Tuesday to explain the closure of the jail and the delay in the developments when the National Government had allocated K5 million about five years ago for the prison.
Justice Ellis was upset that Enga prisoners were being taken to Baisu jail in Western Highlands province while Mukurumanda jail was sitting idle.
He made the orders after inspecting the conditions in Mukurumanda and saw no reason for it to remain idle and non-operational.
Mukurumanda acting jail commander Sgt Cosmas Pingina confirmed receiving a copy of the Court Order last week served by the National Court to the two for abusing human rights when transferring Wabag prisoners to Baisu jail in Mt Hagen, instead of keeping them in Mukurumanda.
Sgt Pingina said: “We are treating prisoners like dogs or pigs and breaching PNG’s human right laws. They are supposed to be detained in their own provincial jail.
“Instead, we are transporting them elsewhere, thus abusing their rights.
“The people want their jail to be opened and their prisoners to be held in their own province,” he said.
Sgt Pingina, also a local man, said he was happy with Justice Ellis’ decision to open Mukurumanda, adding that the local people would also benefit from the jail spin-offs.
“It will be easier for relatives visit their loved ones in their own province. They are also taking risks to travel, crossing lives and valleys just to make a day’s visit to see their loved ones and return,” he said.
He said PMV fares had also increased and the some could not afford to travel frequently to visit their loved ones in Baisu.
“When the jail opens, prisoners will start work on rehabilitation projects like farming and piggery projects,” he said.