Housing for prison staff deplorable, says Ouko

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Most Kenya Prisons staff members are living in deplorable conditions, a new report has revealed. A report by the Auditor General Edward Ouko says 84 per cent of Kenya Prisons staff are living in conditions that are not fit for human habitation.

Ouko revealed that despite the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS) having a total of 3,894 permanent houses of one bed room and above, the staff populations stood at 23, 831 as at June 2017.

In the special audit report tabled in the National Assembly yesterday by Leader of Majority Aden Duale,  he  revealed that staff members are forced to put up in iron sheets houses,  timber houses and in some cases are forced to sleep in open halls.

In addition, he also regretted that in some cases, the officers with multiple families are made to squeeze into one bedroom house that lack basic amenities such as toilets and running water.

Feel demoralised

Among the worst affected area with regards to families sharing houses is in Coast and Rift Valley regions where officers are accommodated in single rooms or bedsitters.

The report notes  following the move, 85 out of the 450 officers, who were interviewed reported that they were not living with their families in the prison because of lack of accommodation.

He regretted that the situation  has made the morale of the officers to significantly drop, and their social and professional lives take a beating.

“The audit observed instances of officers accommodated in single rooms with their families while other officers shared rooms. This compromised their privacy. For example, there were instances where two bedroom houses were shared among four families,” reads the report in part.

In addition, the report also revealed that all the prisons countrywide have a housing deficit of more than 50 percent, with Kilifi and Kakamega prisons recording the highest deficits at 92 percent and 95 percent respectively.

Adds the report:  “Due to lack of maintenance, the majority of prison staff houses are dilapidated and not fit for human habitation. Officers live in houses with broken windows and doors, cracked walls and leaking roofs.”

At the same time the report also regretted that some of the officers have also been forced to construct temporary sanitation facilities that are shared by several families.

According to Ouko , the move is because KPS has been recruiting officers into the service over years, but has failed to provide houses at the same pace.

Adds report: “The problems has been compounded by an apparent lack of prioritization of prison staff housing by the government.”

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