By Murtland Haley
The July 9, 2017 conflagration and riot at the Georgetown Prisons, Camp Street, has placed the government of Guyana in a position that it has to expend $500M to cover costs related to the event.
The bill will cover the cost for the construction of the tarmac area at Lusignan, the rehabilitation of the Georgetown Prisons and the sand-filling of the swamped area at Lusignan. This figure was provided to the media yesterday during a press conference held at the Ministry of Public Security.
Participating in the media briefing were Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud; Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels and Fire Chief, Marlon Gentle.
Minister Ramjattan said that at this stage, the tarmac area at the Lusignan Prison has been completed. He said that there had been some minor difficulties, but those were corrected which led to at least 400 prisoners being in the new location in better conditions than in the swamped area.
However, the Minister said that there are number of prisoners still in the swamped area.
“We felt that it was necessary, because we do not want them to contaminate the 400 and more that are in the tarmac area. These are the real bad ones that would have done a number of acts which make us believe that if they were to go into that new area, we might have further troubles.”
Further, Ramjattan reported that 151 prisoners that were held at the Georgetown Prisons prior to the fire are now in the actual prison at Lusignan. According to Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels, there are 90 prisoners that remain in the swamped area.
Ramjattan added that there have been major developments at the Camp Street site, whereby the removal of debris has been completed. He said that it was only yesterday that a plan was made regarding what constructions will be done at the temporary level for purposes of ensuring that prisoners from Lusignan can be transferred to the brick prison on Camp Street to be in better conditions.
According to Ramjattan, for this transfer to be successful, a number of facilities will have to be put in place, inclusive of a kitchen, an administrative building and an infirmary. He said that the cost for all of this will be high, even though it will be temporary.
“All of these major constructions there that will have to make the place safe will cost us a good set of money…it is over a half a billion dollars, quite frankly.”
Ramjattan said that the final figure will be known after the quantity surveyors have finished doing their jobs. He said that all the plans in relation to what has to be constructed and security systems needed were designed within the past 72 hours.
Samuels then disclosed that the swamped area at Lusignan will be sand-filled. He said that work can be done within the next 24 hours as long as there is cooperation. He said that if force has to be applied, it will be done, because the lives of contractors cannot be endangered, since persons have to be used to operate the machinery in the compound.
Meanwhile, as it relates to the manhunt for the remaining escapees, Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud said that the operation remains intelligence-led. He said that on Wednesday the joint services received information that led a team to Linden. He said that an individual was arrested, but that person was not one of the escapees.
Additionally, the Commissioner said that there was a confrontation with one of the escapees, Stafrei Alexander at Port Mourant, East Berbice, Corentyne. He said that the intelligence team believes that Alexander is still in Berbice. Persaud could not confirm whether the escapee had been shot, despite ranks having discharged rounds.
The Commissioner said that Alexander is believed to be moving alone and it is believed that the other three escapees have also separated.
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