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Task force recommends expansion of Kodiaga Maximum Prison

The Task Force on improvement of terms and conditions of service for members of the National Police Service and the Kenya Prisons Service, has proposed the expansion and refurbishment of Kodiaga Maximum Prison in Kisumu County, to enhance service delivery.

Led by Retired Chief Justice, David Maraga, the Task Force toured the prison over the weekend, to assess the state of facilities and working conditions of the officers.

Maraga said the prison which was built during the colonial era, was in deplorable state, adding that the Task Force will recommend for its expansion and upgrade to cater for the huge number of inmates.

Built to accommodate about 800 inmates, the prison currently has over 3, 000 inmates, causing a big strain on facilities.

Besides the strain on facilities for inmates, prisons warders working at the facility, he added, lacked decent accommodation, which must be urgently addressed to enhance service delivery.

The Task Force which is currently going around the country to collect views from members of the public and officers, he said, was deeply concerned by the state of housing for officers and inmates across the country.

He attributed the situation to lack of proper funding mechanisms, to upgrade houses for the officers.

While presenting their views to the team, prison wardens urged the government to review their salaries and allowances, to be in tandem with the nature of the work they do.

Their work, they said, entailed working late into the night, asking the government to consider paying them extraneous allowances.

Kassim Ishmael, a prison warden at the facility, said the officers must be considered for enhanced risk allowance among other benefits.

“Our risk allowance should be equivalent to that of doctors and nurses. During the Covid-19 pandemic we continuously served the nation without a break. We continue to expose ourselves to tuberculosis and other diseases while handling inmates,” he said.

On accommodation, the officers asked the prisons service to consider constructing modern houses for junior officers within the prisons services.

This, he said, was necessary because their house allowances cannot allow them to secure accommodation outside, at market rates like their seniors who earn more.

On health cover, the officers asked to be taken back to the National Health and Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Faith Oloo, an officer at Kisumu Women Prison, said the insurance cover should be liberalized so that officers are free to join a scheme of their choice

Maternity leave, she added, should be reviewed from three months to six months to allow female officers who wish to undergo caesarian section ample time to recover before resuming duty.

The officers further asked the Task Force to make recommendations on promotions, to ensure that they are awarded fairly and on merit.

Recruitment of cadet officers, they said, should start within the service to ensure that those with the qualifications are given priority.

By Ogonyo Centrine and Rolex Omondi

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