The construction progress for the $20million Tanumalala Prison is ahead of schedule and if continues according to plan, prisoners should relocate there by December this year.
This is according to Deputy Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Levaopolo Rosa Mene. She was speaking to the media on Friday during an inspection of the project.
Levao is also the Chairperson of the Committee tasked to oversee the construction of the new Prison by Schwarz Construction.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi led the inspection visit. In attendance were the Minister of Prisons and Correction Services; Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, Minister of Finance; Sili Epa Tuioti, Minister of Health; Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati and Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell.
“We are at 80 percent completion of the new prison,” said Levao.
“We are way ahead of schedule, the biggest challenge is the bad weather. Also Tropical Cyclone Gita delayed the project.”
The second phase of the project will include the administration block and punishment cells for maximum security.
“The difference between the regular jail cell and the punishment cell is the minimal space.
“If you are a well behaved prisoner, you will remain housed at the regular cell; however if you misbehave you’ll then serve up to 21 days in the punishment cell.
“The punishment cell is much smaller and the way the cell is built minimizes sunlight compared to the regular cells.”
She explained the new prison should house between 500-600 prisoners, including women.
“The capacity we have at the moment in Tafa’igata is more than 367 prisoners inclusive of women,” she said.
“The whole compound will be fenced and there will be two secured fences, all the edges for the buildings will be fenced off-and that is secured fence. There will be a multipurpose building for visitations and rehabilitation programmes.”
Asked about elements of security, the Deputy Commissioner is confident that prisoners will find it very hard to escape.
“There will be two secured fences, one at the edges of the building and the other one outside of the building fence. It is a heavy duty state of the art prison.”
During Parliament in January, Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea revealed that the new Prison is estimated to cost of $20 million.
“Currently the building project that is ongoing are just cell blocks, it does not include the admin block, the kitchen, the cafeteria, tower, hospital, search house,” explained Tialavea at the time.
“It also does not include the high security blocks and the total estimated project is $20million, but the lack of funds is the reason they are paying the funds in phases."