Outgoing commander highlights Buimo issues

Ageing infrastructure and overcrowding contribute to the mass breakouts at PNG’s largest prison facility in Morobe Province.

Retired Buimo commanding officer, Chief Superintendent Judy Masani Tara, highlighted some of the challenges she faced during her tenure.

The Buimo Correctional Institute in Lae holds the largest number of detainee population in the country. It held over 1,000 prisoners in December 2019 until COVID-19 restrictions brought the number down to 730 as inmates were distributed to other prisons in the Highlands and Madang.

“It’s been difficult for me, here in Buimo, because of the huge detainee population that we have,” she stated. “Buimo caters for many prisons; those that are up the highway, they are transferred here, and there are those that are from the New Guinea Islands and Wewak.

“The Supreme Court matters would usually come here so we have prisoners from Madang who would come down here for Supreme Court appeals.”

Buimo used to serve the nine districts of Morobe until the establishment of the Finschhafen Rural Lockup. This, however, is doing little to alleviate the burden imposed on Buimo from the other eight districts as well as from prisons along the Highlands-Madang Highway.

The Commissioner of the PNG Correctional Services, Stephen Pokanis, is well aware of this issue. He said studies have already been undertaken at Menyamya and Kabwum while they are looking at building capacity at the Finschhafen lockup, which can currently accommodate 50 detainees.

The CS has now set its sights on Bulolo, where they aim to build Morobe’s second correctional institute.

“Toktok lo Bulolo em edvens pinis,” he stated. (Talk on Bulolo has already advanced.) “I edvens pinis mining olsem, as soon as ol i tok orait lo displa disain, probably construction will begin in 2021.”

(Retired commander, Judy Masani Tara, with her colleague, Kerevat Correctional Institute’s acting commander, Superintendent Margaret Garap, during her farewell on December 18th)

Carmella Gware