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Gov’t Envisages Modern Jail Houses 

The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice in charge of Penitentiary Administration, Emmanuel Ngafeeson, has disclosed that government will soon construct six modern prisons.
The prisons will be built in the Southwest, Centre, South and West Regions of the country.
He made the disclosure in Yaounde March 10, while presiding at the first-ever meeting of the pilot committee in charge of a project for the modernisation of prisons and preparation for social reinsertion of detainees.

Going by its components, Ngafeeson said, the project intends to construct six central prisons with a capacity of 300 places each within the next three years. The prisons would be built in the following places: Bangem and Mundemba in the Southwest Region, Ntui and Ngoumou in the Centre Region, Bengbis in the South and Baham in the West Regions.

The prisons, which must be of international standards, according to documents furnished to the press, must equally provide ample space for detainees as well as the separation of the various categories of the populations under detention. Other facilities previewed by the project are playing grounds, educative structures and training workshops.

He noted that the efforts aimed at modernising the penitentiary administration falls within the scope of goodwill by government to improve on detention conditions in the country.  Ngafeeson said some 34 prisons amongst which are: Tibati; Meiganga; Akonolinga; Mbalmayo; Moloundou; Ngambe; Mbouda; Ambam; Kribi; Yagoua; Mokolo; Nkambe; Kumba; Betare-Oya; Bafia; Yokadouma; Yabassi; Foumbot; Kaéle; Cthollire; Fundong and Manfe would be rehabilitated.

The project also envisages the digging of 12 boreholes for water provision in some prisons, financing of production activities such as agriculture, cattle rearing, woodworks, carvings, etc, in some 60 prisons as well as the acquisition of eight cellular vehicles. Ngafeeson said the estimated cost of the project stands at FCFA 3.931 billion and out of this amount, the government would chip about FCFA 116 million, while development partners are contributing FCFA 3.815 billion through accumulated funds from debt cancellation.

Meanwhile, in a press kit, it is noted that the country’s penitentiary administration is today evolving in a difficult environment where the infrastructure is not only unable to accommodate detainees, but has equally suffered considerable degradation. It observes that the situation renders missions such as ensuring public security, preparation of detainees for social reinsertion and economic production a daunting one. Overpopulation, poor detention conditions, promiscuity, inadequate feeding, precarious hygienic conditions and poor health services are some of the ills cited that plague Cameroonians prisons.

It was revealed also that there are 23,000 prisoners distributed in the 72 prisons across the country with only 2, 576 warders to cater for them. The Post gathered that the 72 prisons have a capacity of 10, 000 people. While installing officials recently appointed into the pilot committee as well as the national coordination of the project during the occasion, Ngafeeson called on all stakeholders to lend their support and help Cameroon achieve its mission of modernising its prisons.

By Daniel Gwarbarah

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