Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, in light of the devastating fire at the Camp Street Prison, has said that the location notwithstanding the fire still holds the best base/foundation in order to rebuild a prison.
His comments comes on the heels of concerns raised by observers that with the extensive damage rendered to the Camp Street Prison, the best move going forward would be for the main prison to be relocated away from the heart of the City.
Ramjattan holds the view however, that the Camp Street Prison will have to be rehabilitated in an urgent manner and funds will be required to bring the facility to a level where prisoners can again be housed.
He told media operatives “it’s $6 billion minimum to construct a new prison and that will take about three years.”
Meanwhile, Ramjattan has dismissed calls for his resignation following the jailbreak and conflagration at the Camp Street Prison on Sunday evening, and cited the state of the sugar industry and its annual bailouts as among the reasons Government is yet to make a heavy capital investment in the penitentiary.
Ramjattan was at the time addressing members of the media at an emergency press conference live at the National Communications Network (NCN) studio after the fire.
Asked about his resignation in light of the fire last year, which claimed the life of 17 prisoners, coupled with Sunday’s incident, Ramjattan said that decision will have to be made by the President.
According to Ramjattan, “If there is a fault on my part; well , the President can do that… I would have resigned if it was a fault on my part.” However, in dismissing calls for his resignation, Ramjattan questioned how fault can be laid at his feet.
Reminded of the Commission of Inquiry last year, couple with the fact that recommendations – including the need for substantial capital investments were never implemented – the Public Security Minister responded saying “we understand that indeed all of those little things (recommendations) were done.”
The Public Security Minister was adamant a number of the recommendations were in fact implemented and yielded success. He drew reference to several prison wardens that were caught attempting to transport illicit materials into the Georgetown Prison.
According to Minister Ramjattan, the small recommendations such as the installation of better close circuit television cameras were in fact installed.
“Most of the recommendations that we could have afforded have been implemented but we still have problems,” Ramjattan said.
Meanwhile, President David Granger has announced a four-part emergency plan to address the situation in the interim.
“The NSC [National Security Committee] has approved the immediate implementation of a four-part emergency plan, which includes the construction of temporary structures to safely and securely house prisoners in the short term and protect the population; the completion of recovery operation to account for and accommodate every single prisoner; the implementation of legal measures to immediately reduce prison population and importantly, the immediate recapture of those inmates who escaped custody,” the President told the nation.