Water Shortage, Coronavirus Hit Pademba Road Prisons
An investigative journalism by reporters from over ten of Sierra Leones leading registered newspapers have confirmed that even as Coronavirus is spreading inside the prisons amongst prisoners locked up the authorities of government have left the prisoners without adequate water supply now for over ten days in this June 2020 and that such a development is not even strange.
Prisoners are now forced to urinate and defecate inside cell toilets that are already full of un-flushed urine and faeces; then forced to sleep for days inside such cells where the windows are placed so high that fresh air cannot easily remove the stench from the cells.
Furthermore, investigations show that prisoners have been unable to take daily baths let alone follow Coronavirus precautions of regular washing of hands. Prisoners cannot do washing of their hands and neither is there enough water for the prison wardens to wash their hands.
Sources say the situation is a potential timebomb for a massive spread of Coronavirus behind prison bars, in Sierra Leone. Already, our investigations confirm that at least 30 prisoners have been infected with Coronavirus which they caught behind bars at the Pademba Road prisons in Freetown. All the 30 infected prisoners became sick after the authorities took an alleged thief and remanded him in the jails without bail. The man (identified as Corona case 90) went on to infect prisoners he contacted inside the prisons as he was himself already infected before his arrest. The jail yard now has infected prisoners passing the virus to one another.
At one point few weeks back a total of nineteen (19) prisoners had the virus and then just last week, a further eleven (11) prisoners also tested positive for the virus bringing the total number of Corona virus sickened prisoners to 30. Some are said to have now been cured but many prisoners are now admitted at a temporary Isolation Treatment Centre built inside the prisons.
It is in the midst of such an unprecedented virus outbreak behind prison bars that Government has left the prison without enough water supply. Even during the Ebola virus crisis, the Government authorities back then ensured adequate water supply and also, took steps to ensure not a single prisoner got infected with the virus back then.
Many citizens with loved ones now inside the prisons, especially the innocent persons denied bail, are concerned at the lack of water for bathing, washing hands and flushing toilets inside cells.
In this day and age, prisoners being made to sleep in cells with unflushed urine and faeces for several days are an outrage!! said Mr. Michael Ibrahim Kallon who lamented that his elder sister is now denied bail and in the Prisons.
When the journalist contacted the prisons, the Regional Commander for the Pademba Road Prisons, Mr. Turay initially said that he was in a meeting. He requested to be called after one hour, to comment. After an hour, he was called but he did not respond to the call. All efforts have been made to reach him but all remained futile
However, the Public Relations Officer for the prisons, Mr. Cole Showers later spoke to the investigative Journalists on the issues. He said the prisons water bowser is faulty. It is very old and as a result spends most of its time at the garage. Cole Showers also stated that in August 2019 they reconnected pipe borne water into their corrections facilities in Freetown. They had been cut off from the Guma Valley direct water supply. They spent close to two Hundred Million Leones (Le 200,000,000.00) to get that done. The Guma Valley water company supplied water for about two (2) months and withdrew supply. When Guma Company were approached on the matter, Guma said prisons should pay more money before opening their pipes. Prisons did not have enough funds, so they could not oblige. They reverted to sending the water bowser to hydrants to fetch water for distribution to different prison facilities in Freetown. Cole- showers averse that there is a borehole in the Female correctional center which can be used for laundering, bathing and cooking. Our independent investigations show this is not at all true. Our investigations show that since the bowser broke down, the situation of urine and faeces stench is very bad at the female prison.
Responding to the Covid-19 saga, the Public relations officer (PRO) revealed in his own words Yes we have Covid-19 in the Male Correctional Center, former special court. In total, since we had that index case, we have had 30 cases. 18 have recovered so far. Presently, those in the treatment center are 12. The situation is under control, we have medical specialists from the EOC who are working tirelessly with our medical team to ensure that the situation does not get worse.
Meanwhile the Government recently charged under the seditious Libel Laws for alleged utterance of a prominent female journalist and human rights activist that expressed outrage over a prisoner made to sleep for days in a cell full of the stench of urine and faeces. The female journalist Dr. Sylvia Blyden, an aspirant for position of President of Sierra Leone, was arrested and is now facing court on seven counts of Libel of which three concerns the expressed outrage over condition of detention of a prisoner. The remaining four counts are alleged libel of the current president.
The investigation of this serious development of prisoners without water as Corona virus spreads in the prisons was under taken by reporters from over ten newspapers including Awareness Times, The Times, Focus 24/7, Night Watch, For Di People, City Voice, Sierra Express Media, The Senator Newspaper, Voice of Salone, Standard Times, Satellite, Prime Times, Executive Premier Media, Calabash Newspaper and Forum News Papers.
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