By Bampia James Bundu
Strategic Communications Unit -MIC.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Mr David Panda Noah has revealed that his Ministry is working on relocating the Pademba Road Male and Female Correctional Centers to Songo village. He made this disclosure at the weekly government Press Conference held at the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications 8th Floor Youyi Building in Freetown on Thursday 26th August 2021.
The Internal Affairs Minister explained that the current location at Pademba Road in Freetown is not ideal to maintain a maximum correctional centre. He said the Prison has become part of the central business district and other buildings are overlooking it, making it unfit for its present location.
He furthered that It is also not good for the general public living around that area, in the event of a prison break or attempted prison break. Oftentimes, it is difficult for security personnel to effectively man or cordon the area as required because of other residents around the area. Inmates can mostly be difficult to control in such eventualities.
Minister Noah revealed that the maximum prison was built for 324 inmates but it is currently housing over 1,500 inmates. He gave a breakdown of the current occupancy as follows;
Condemn and separate cells 14,
“Separating inmates is difficult due to the lack of space in the centre. That and many other reasons have prompted us to relocate the prisons to a more suitable location where they will be categorised,” he said.
Mr Panda Noah added that they have already secured a piece of land in Songo and by December of this year, all groundwork would have been completed for the start of the construction of the new prison.
He revealed that relocating the centre will also decongest the central business area, and allow for the construction of modern facilities in the CBD. More development programs and projects in the community such as schools, markets, electricity, water supply, courts, etc can be undertaken without much headache.
Minister Noah promised to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that buy-in for the relocation of the Pademba Road Correctional Centre is sought. In order to avoid any problem and backlash, government will conduct land surveys, produce draft conveyance for signatures, install beacons, and negotiate and determine compensations for landowning families.
The Minister used the opportunity to caution all government officials who are in the habit of covering their number plates as they move around the country to desist.
He described such an act as a chargeable offence and called on the police to arrest anyone in contravention of the law.
"I have instructed the security sector to arrest anybody caught in the act of covering their number plates. Irrespective of who the individuals are, they will face the full force of the law," he said.