The Ministry of Finance has flatly rejected a proposal for an additional $10 million for the second phase of the Tanumalala Prison facility.
The rejection was confirmed by the Minister of Prison Services and Corrections, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
“It was flatly denied by the Ministry of Finance,” he said adding that “they only approved $2.9 million.”
The facility is already estimated to cost more than $20 million tala.
“We estimated that phase one would cost up to $10 million,” said Tialavea.
“However the bid that won was $7.4 million”
The bid was by Schwarz Construction, a company owned by Tialavea’s younger brother, Alai'asa Schwarz Hunt.
“We received $3.7 million from the main budget for F.Y. 2018-2019; then from the supplementary we got $3.8 million.
“Another $1.5 million was received for the administration block and in total that is $9 million. That is the money they gave us.
“The additional $10 million proposed for the main budget of financial year 2019-2020 is for the second phase. But it was flatly denied by the Ministry of Finance.”
It was not possible to get a comment from the Ministry of Finance yesterday.
But the Minister made it clear there is no variation to the cost of the first phase of the project.
“The initial plan laid out for the jail had to be amended because the area where the Prison is built is rocky.
“So we have had to amend the original plans, and now we are putting the tower on the front and the center of the compound.”
Asked if the tower was included in the tender for the first phase, the Minister said no.
“It was not included in the first phase; however after going through the plans of the project, we have decided to include this in the first phase because it’s required.”
So why are they proceeding with the tower when it was not part of the bidding process?
“We have decided to include the tower to fit in with the first phase. Although it is not included, but for good reason, it is needed there,” said Tialavea.
“We are currently negotiating to determine what is the estimated cost for the tower. I think it might be a little over $900,000.”
Asked why there has been no bidding process for the tower if it was not part of first phase, the Minister said there was no need.
“There is a current contract and they own the site; the Committee that oversees this project, we just added this new Tower.
The Minister is adamant that their initial proposal of $20million for the prison will not increase.
“The remaining projects we have is the Admin Block; the Generator; Storage with walk in Freezer; Housing for Correction officers on the compound; Water tank and the Rehabilitation building, this is all included in phase two.
“The total project is $20 million.”
Last month, Deputy Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Levaopolo Rosa Mene assured the Tanugamalala Prison is ahead of schedule and if continues according to plan, prisoners should relocate there by December this year.
A ministerial inspection led by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi of the prison at the time noted that the project was 80 percent completed.
“We are way ahead of schedule, the biggest challenge is the bad weather. Also Tropical Cyclone Gita delayed the project,” said Levao.
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.”