Minister says operation to transfer prisoners successful
Prisoners previously housed at the Tafa'igata Prison have been transferred to the $18.2 million newly commissioned Tanumalala Prison during an operation led by the Police.
The Minister of Prisons and Correctional Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said the operation cost about $100,000.
Carried out under the close watch of Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil and his team, the last prisoners were moved on Saturday.
Fuiavaili’ili was supported by Police Superintendents, Auapaau Logoitino Filipo, Soloi Iosefa Tuimaunei and Prison Commissioner, Taitosaua Edward Winterstein.
The Minister told the Samoa Observer that more than 400 inmates are now housed at the new facility.
“As of 7am today (yesterday), the first motorcade took off on its first trip to Tanumalala," Tialavea said.
The Ministry hired 10 buses and 15 trips were made by the motorcade.
Asked about the budget allocated for the transfer, the Minister said that $100,000 was allocated for the operation.
“However I am certain it’s more than that. We hired 10 buses and we also supplied petrol for police vehicles in the motorcade which consisted of close to ten police vehicles, not including the motorbikes.
“There will also be funds set aside to pay for the overtime incurred not only for the Police Officers and Correction Officers. Safety is paramount, hence investing $100,000 to the cause."
The Minister said the operation was successful.
“There was no hiccup with the operation and by 2pm all the inmates were at Tanumalala and the Police officially taking over the Tafa’igata compound," he said.
After the prisoners were securely transferred to Tanumalala, the Correction officers started moving the furniture.
Tialavea said about 80 people can fit into one cell block. There are six blocks in the new prison.
Asked about the resources in case of a breakout, Tialavea said there are about 70 Correction officers and 10 Prison Guards who work at night and another 10 during the graveyard shift.
The rest work during the day.
“In case of a breakout, I know the ten guards can handle the number of inmates inside each building. I mean, the breakout can’t occur to all three buildings.
“The problem is that we don’t have enough Correction officers and this is due to the nature of the job.”