The first phase of expansion works at the Mazaruni Prison (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) — construction of several living quarters for prison officers — is almost completed, Government has disclosed.
The expansion of this prison came after the completion of the Commission of Inquiry into the Prison System following the March, 2016 fire at Georgetown Prison, which had resulted in the deaths of 17 inmates.
Several recommendations were made, including expanding the Mazaruni Prison. Twenty living quarters are being constructed to accommodate additional prison officers in anticipation of the arrival of at least 400 prisoners who will be housed at the Mazaruni Prison. The living quarters are three-bedroom units that also contain a living room, a patio, kitchen, and a washroom.
According to Adrian Ragoobeer, engineer of the AAV Ragoobeer General Construction entity, his firm is responsible for one of the four lots to be constructed, and the three houses under his supervision, costing $35 million, are about 85 per cent completed.
Noting that all works are expected to be completed by July 31, 2017, he explained that, “works remaining are basically painting and plumbing, (and) some minor mason and carpentry works for the staircases.”
The Officer in Charge of the Mazaruni Prison, Senior Superintendent Alexander Hopkinson, has also said that the houses are being constructed to accommodate prison officers and their families.
“The reason these houses are being placed in this area is a collective (decision made) by the administration (and) the Director of Prisons, Mr Samuels, who want these houses near the prison… It would be like a housing scheme… We have to have additional staff in place for the new prison, and that is the purpose for the houses,” Hopkinson is quoted by the Government Information Agency/DPI as saying.
He also pointed out that in addition to the family quarters, a number of single quarters will be built to accommodate more prison officers.
“We are looking at over 200 (units) because the prison that will be erected should hold over 400 inmates, so we have to have the ratio. So definitely we have to have additional quarters, it does not have to be family quarters it could be quarters for bachelors” Hopkinson explained.
The completion of the quarters will see construction of the state-of-the-art prison being built on the grounds of the Mazaruni Prison. The sum of $278M has been approved by Cabinet for the first phase of the project. Preparation works for the construction of the prison have already commenced with soil testing, levelling of the ground, and the erection of a new gate.
According to Senior Superintendent Hopkinson, when the prison is completed, “it would be safer, and as it relates to the kind of material that will be used, the infrastructure and everything, it would be far different. We are trying to be more modernized”.
The new section, which will be adjacent to a part of the old prison, will also feature automated locks, sprinkler systems and forced ventilation. The entire project will cost the state approximately $2B. This new project comes on the heels of the fiery flattening of the Georgetown Prison last Sunday.