Koforidua Prison and its environs at Effiduase in the Eastern Region has become synonymous with perennial water crisis.
But, the situation was getting dire each pressing day as the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), a body mandated to provide water for Ghanaians, has failed to meet its side of the deal.
A visit to the all-male prison by a team of journalists from some selected media houses to assess inmates’ accessibility to safe water as part of activities marking the month long 2019 World Water Day, which was commemorated on March 22, 2019 revealed a very horrible picture of young and old men with skin irritation and infections among others.
As at the time of our visit, the prison was hit with acute water shortage, since water has not ran through the GWCL lines for over three months, thus making lives of the 800 inmates and officers unbearable as they were unable to bath and wash their clothes regularly.
The inmates, we were told, have to bath three times daily to reduce skin rashes and infections among others due to the excessive heat in the cells because of overcrowding.
The Koforidua Prison which was originally built to accommodate 400 inmates is currently housing 800 inmates.
Due to the excessive heat and the overcrowded nature of the cells, the prisoners, who are ideally supposed to bath three times daily, have had no choice but to stay days without a bath.
Speaking to the media, the Officer-in-charge of Koforidua Prison, Deputy Director of Prisons (DDP), Mr Benedict Bob Dery, acknowledged that the chronic water shortage had been a major challenge at the prison and Effiduase before he was posted to the facility four years ago.
Mr Dery further highlighted the effects of the lack of safe water on the lives of the inmates and the entire prison environment.
“You cannot imagine the discomfort that the inmates go through. The daily lives of the prisoners are affected by the water crisis. We are compelled to depend on the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to supply us with a tanker of water in a day, but that is willfully not enough and sometimes they are unable to meet our request,” he said.
According to them, they have two boreholes to augment the water situation but unfortunately all the pumps had broken down due to excessive pressure and the administration required GH¢8,000 to repair them at a cost of GH¢4,000 each.
Mr Dery hinted that, some contingency plans had been put in place to deal with the water shortage as well as to conserve water.
The measures, he said, included restricting inmates’ showers, flushing of cell toilets and the washing of clothes.
Mr Dery told the team that the Koforidua Prison was not initially built as a prison but was a colonial structure for weaponry which was later converted to a prison to cater for 400 inmates.
“But it now has to hold twice the number of its original capacity. The lack of water makes it impossible for the inmates to bath and wash as regularly as they have to and this creates conditions conducive for the spread of diseases,” he said.
The prison, he added, depended on reliable water supply to Effiduase, where the facility was situated from the GWCL, but since the area experienced water shortages, the inmates’ need for water currently was in competition with the needs of the inhabitants.
Mr Dery is therefore appealing to benevolent organisations, individuals, as well as corporate institutions to come to their aid by providing them with a mechanised borehole which he believes will solve the perennial water crisis in the prison and its environs.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH, BACK FROM KOFORIDUA, EASTERN REGION.
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