By Edwin Fidelis – EMTV News, Kokopo
At a hilltop overlooking the prison camp, is a row of houses.
The reddish-brown flaking on their roof tops indicates the urgency needed to upgrade the structure.
This scenario shows the housing woes that continue to plague staff at the Kerevat jail, in East New Britain province, for more than 40 years.
John Akuila, a prison officer agreed to show me through his house that was given to him, when he first joined the Correctional Service two years ago.
On the concrete floor, and the wall, are evidence of steady wear and tear of the structure.
Inside the house, the smell of pesticide was evident.
“I sprayed the house yesterday to get rid of the white ants in the ceiling. Its not just my house. Almost all the staff houses here are rundown. They need maintenance. Immediate maintenance,” Mr. Akuila said.
Mr. Akuila told me he had to buy building materials with his own salary, as the CS maintenance team doesn’t have the necessary building supplies to put his house back into good shape.
“I’ve spent K300 to buy building materials. And there are more materials that I am need to buy, like plywood and fibro,” he said.
Mr. Akuila’s house sheds light onto the rest of the staff houses here, that have the same problem.
Almost all the houses were built in the colonial days. Most all of them have been condemned but a still being used.
Kerevat Jail commander, Simon Sobaim, said he needs at least 200 officers to man the prison.
But because of housing issues, he has only 84 men looking after 521 prisoners.
” We have man power issues here…I need more officers, but I can’t keep them here. We don’t have enough houses here”, says the Jail commander, Simon Sobaim.
Many officers are required to work longer hours than expected, and with the steady wear and tear of their houses, it is an extra burden.
Numerous calls to the national government to upgrade CS staff’s accommodation all over Papua New Guinea have attracted very little response.