Mazaruni prisons expansion works approved -Minister Harmon

GINA, Guyana, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Prison officers and staffers of the Mazaruni Prisons are one step closer to having improved accommodation with Cabinet’s approval of $28.141M for Lot 1 of expansion works.

The sum of $30.447M was also approved to execute Lot 2 of the works, while $26.5M was approved for the provision of consultancy services for the design of the expansion of the prison.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon, at a post-Cabinet press briefing today, at the Ministry of the Presidency, said that the rehabilitation works on the 20- acre facility are scheduled to start soon.

Minister Harmon explained that the contracts cater for living accommodation of prison officers, inmate cell blocks, preparation of land for agricultural development and fencing of the entire facility. He reminded that it is intended that some of the higher profile and long-term prisoners would be removed from the Georgetown Prison to the Mazaruni prison following the riot which resulted in 17 inmates dying and a Commission of Inquiry into overcrowding at all of the prisons.

“The intention is basically to provide accommodation for that purpose. We are trying to make better accommodation for our prisoners that are in keeping with the standards that are obtained all around the world,” Harmon explained.

He added that despite being imprisoned, inmates must be treated properly even as security measures are strengthened. The facilities must be suited for prison service ranks to live comfortably on site, and ensure that there is a level of self-sufficiency, the Minister of State further added, “So that we don’t have to be spending extra sums of money on dietary supplies, when they provide those things right there.”

Earlier in the year, it was announced that Cabinet had approved the contract for the construction of six living quarters from lots one to two at the Mazaruni prison. The contract of $41M was awarded for Lot 1 of the project while a $35M contract was awarded for Lot 2.

The planned improvements at the penitentiary which houses approximately 289 inmates, 24 of whom are high-profile criminals, follows previous measures instituted following a visit by President David Granger to the facility in March 2016. The  President and a ministerial team visited the prison and found the living quarters of the prison officers and prisoners in a deplorable state.

By: Paul McAdam