HOME Affairs Deputy Minister Nickson Chilangwa has attributed the increasing cases of inmates escaping from prison to the poor state of the detention facilities in the country.
Speaking when he toured Kaoma State Prison on Thursday, Mr Chilangwa said Government was concerned about the cases of inmates escaping from prisons and thus would ensure that it rehabilitated and built new prisons to prevent such incidences from happening.
"Nearly all our prisons in this country were constructed in the early 60's and late 60's. Therefore, they all need urgent renovations.
"We are going to do everything possible in our powers to ensure that we up-scale the rehabilitation of prisons and the building of new infrastructure because we cannot rely on the infrastructure that was built so many years ago," he said.
Mr Chilangwa said Government would this year launch an infrastructure programme, which would take into account several factors, among them prisons and housing units for officers, aimed at uplifting their working standards and those of the inmates.
He also said that Government would this year open prisons in Kalabo and Luwingu Districts, among other areas.
Mr Chilangwa said despite Government assuming power in slightly more than two years ago under immense challenges, it was still equal to the task and that conditions in the Zambia Prisons Service would improve under the leadership of President Michael Sata and cited the opening of Mwembeshi Prison as an example.
Meanwhile, Mr Chilangwa said there was need to follow up the contractor who had sunk a borehole at the prison between 2010 and 2011 but had never been functional.He said the prison needed to have a functional borehole so that it did not depend on the erratic water supply by the Western Water and Sewerage Company (WWSC).
Mr Chilangwa proceeded to address inmates whom he urged to exhibit good conduct so as to increase their chances of being released from prison before completing their sentences. He also advised them to cooperate with the prison officials and not regard them as enemies.
He asked the prison commander Gerrard Chibule to explain why inmates were complaining about not having blankets and mattresses, to which the commander said the consignment of the beddings had not yet arrived.
Earlier, Kaoma State Prison officer-in-charge Davies Mulenga said the facility had 139 inmates and that the situation was normal save for a few challenges like water shortage.
He thus appealed for a borehole to boost supply throughout the day, unlike now when the prison was depending on WWSC, whose supply was erractic.
Mr Mulenga also said the prison needed a wall fence to replace the current wire fence.