THIKA, APRIL 27- Vice President and Home Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka on Sunday appealed to prison warders to resume their duties as the government worked to addresses their grievances.
Musyoka said a task force had already been constituted to assess all issues related to prison services including their complaints.
He asked all officers to present their grievances to the committee without fear to enable the government to intervene effectively.
“I would like to appeal to warders to continue with the usual duties with the full confidence that their minister who is concerned with their affairs has heard and responded to your pleas and the process of resolving your grievances has started,” he said.
The Vice President made the remarks when he toured Thika Main Prison, to acquaint himself with the conditions at the facility.
Kalonzo who was accompanied by his Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso and Commissioner of Prisons Gilbert Omondi called on the officers to remain committed to their oath of service.
Musyoka regretted the deplorable situation in the facility and the living conditions of the officers and urged warders to be patient as the government improves their welfare through the ongoing reforms.
He said: “We have witnessed a situation where five officers are living in a cubicle meant for one person. There is no difference between the officers and the prisoners as they live in congested situations.”
The Vice President however said in the last four years the government had done a lot to improve penal institutions under the ongoing Penal Institution Reforms and Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) programme.
He also reassured that the government would continue to streamline the criminal justice system in order to expedite cases of remandees, which he noted had been the main cause of congestion in prisons.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Suspects should be arraigned in court within 14 days of arrest as part of their human rights,” he said.
He at the same time urged courts to fully utilize the Community Service Order (CSO) as well as fines for petty offenders to help in decongesting prisons.
Even as the Vice President drove out of the facility there were some voices of discontent as some of the officers dismissed the Moody Awori-led committee as a ploy by the government to buy time.
They called on the Vice President to take up the matter personally fearing that the committee’s findings would be shelved like many others in the past.
The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) in the meantime called for the formation of an umbrella body to address the grievances of policemen and prison warders.
Secretary General Francis Atwoli said such a body would be able to provide proper channels for the officers to air their complaints.
“We want policemen and warders to be allowed to have their own workers union so that they can take their grievances there. This way, they won’t strike,” stated Atwoli.
He was speaking ahead of the Labour Day celebrations where he also called on the government to give ear to the grievances of the warders.
“If you hear somebody talking against you, listen to him. If you do so, you will prevent unnecessary problems like strikes,” he said.