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Warders resume work

NAIROBI, April 29 – Warders in all prison facilities in the country went back to work early Tuesday morning, a day after the government pledged to meet most of their demands. 

The warders, who had downed their tools to demand the payment of a Sh5,000 monthly risk allowance, a medical allowance worth Sh1,500 and a token of Sh10,000 for backing police efforts to contain the post-election crisis, all reported for duty. 

During the near two-week strike, the prison guards were also asking to be issued with official uniforms which they said they had not received for over 10 years. 

“We have resumed duty and we hope the government will fulfil its pledge because all will not be well if our demands are not met,” a prison warder, who spoke on condition of anonymity from Kamiti Maximum Prison, said. 

A spot-check by Capital News revealed that the normal schedule, which had been interrupted during the mass action was back to normal. 

“It is business as usual now. Warders were woken up at 6am and given breakfast. There is no problem now,” another officer said, also declining to be named. 

There were however, reports that capital offenders serving life sentences at Kamiti were threatening to stage a sit-in to demand the payment of their monthly allowances of Sh60, paid to prisoners serving long sentences. 

“This morning (Tuesday), they declined to go back to their cells after breakfast but they were convinced that their issue will be looked into. They are threatening to stage a sit-in,” a warder said. 

At the Naivasha Government of Kenya (GK) Prison, operations were also back in stride.  

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Security was however beefed up at the prison facility after Monday’s jail break attempt. 

“Prisoners have been taken to court and all other tasks are going on as scheduled. We are happy with the government announcement,” another warder said. 

The officers had paralysed operations in all the 89 penitentiaries in the country since Monday, prompting the government to act on their demands.

"The government has noted with concern the demands made by the warders. As a result, they will be awarded Sh10,000 for their work during the elections, Sh5,000 risk allowance, uniforms will be issued immediately and a housing development project will be accelerated," Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka had said on Monday.

The government’s action followed threats by the warders to free criminals jailed for various offences including murder, rape and robbery with violence. 

Since last week, prisoners have not been taken to court due to the warders’ protest.

"The government has met their demands halfway. We look forward to implement the remaining part in due course. We expect them to resume duty," Musyoka said.

And he warned that stern action would be taken against warders and senior prison officers who may have played a role, either directly or indirectly, in accelerating the strike.

Already, nine senior officers across the country have been charged for insubordination.

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The prison officials are accused of either instigating the strike or failing to take remedial measures to curb the crisis.

They appeared before the Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei charged with incitement to disobedience of lawful command. 

They were released on a cash bail of Sh20,000 each and ordered to report to the Investigating officer whenever required, as a probe into the matter continues. 

The officers were represented by 16 lawyers, led by Moses Kurgat and their case will be heard on May 2.

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