Prisons on red alert

National, Normal

WARDERS have warned of more “breakouts” at prisons throughout the country if issues they have raised with their management were not addressed.
The threat of more breakouts, similar to the Bomana incident last Sunday in which 57 very dangerous prisoners escaped, was conveyed to this newspaper by a group of warders who said they were concerned about the nation’s security.
“It is a big issue that needs urgent Government intervention,” the warders said, asking that they not be identified.
This group has drawn up information papers detailing the concerns, and is sending them to various Government ministers and organisations, asking for their intervention.
Among the concerns raised is the reduction of overtime claims from 20 hours to five, alleged constant travel by CS Commissioner Richard Sikani, alleged dubious supply contract dealings, prolonged suspension of officers, introduction of rate payments for water and electricity at Barracks.
One of the main reasons warders have expressed frustrations about is the reduction of overtime hours from 20 or so to a flat five hours since May 9.
“Apart from their normal working hours, a warder’s overtime per fortnight would go up to 20 hours, offering them a fair compensation for their efforts.
But since May 9, this has been cut to a flat five hours, no matter how many hours one clocks up. This has caused frustration,” they said.
“Some warders do not turn up for work. We are now having to pay water and power bills, and a reduction of overtime to only five hours does not help.”
Mr Sikani’s “constant travel” was also a cause for their protests.
They claimed in Mr Sikani and Mr Tony Aimo’s recent trip to China that K200,000 had to be transferred from retired warders’ pension vote because the travel vote did not have money. Mr Sikani and Mr Aimo are due to return today from this trip.
“Item 112, or the travel vote, has been depleted because of a lot of travels.”
They also said the suspension of some officers over an alleged payroll scandal was “a smokescreen”.
Two of those staff had to be recalled to “keep the payroll going”, while the others remain suspended and an investigation outsourced at a cost the Correctional Service cannot not afford.
Issues concerning the administration of jails were brought to a head when there was a protest at Bomana last Friday.
Bomana staff met to express their frustration over the administration.
It is understood the walkout by 16 prisoners from Bomana on May 14 was the work of warders angry over these issues.