The Sunyani Central Prisons has come under pressure after its only 33-seater bus was seized for failure to honour a GH¢435,000 judgement debt slapped on it by the Sunyani High Court in a case brought against it by the family of a former inmate.
The case was brought before the court after the inmate, Richard Peprah, fell off a moving truck and got injured when he and others were being conveyed to a location to offload cement blocks sold to a customer by the Sunyani Central Prisons.
The Ghana Prisons Service (GPS) has not been able to settle the debt since July 2016 when the case was finally determined by the court.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Johann Nertey, told the Daily Graphic that the Sunyani Central Prisons had gone through tough times after its only Mitsubishi Coaster bus, with registration number PS 291, was seized on May 9, 2018.
He noted that the Sunyani Central Prisons had a block manufacturing factory which sold its products to the public as part of its trade-training activities to beef up its internally generated fund (IGF).
ASP Nertey added that in June 2016, some inmates who were assigned to load some cement blocks purchased by a customer into a truck were on their way to offload same at a location when the incident happened.
Peprah had to undergo surgery as a result of the seriousness of the injury he sustained during the incident.
“Even though the GPS took care of the bills of the inmate, the family took the matter to court and the judge ruled in their favour and slapped the debt on us,” he stated.
ASP Nertey explained that the GPS had not been able to pay the GH¢90,000.00 it had been ordered to deposit, hence the impounding of its only bus.
Effect of the seizure
The Sunyani Central Prisons, with a current inmate population of 900, has only one bus, one pickup which is used by the regional commander as a command vehicle, and a motorbike.
ASP Nertey said it had become very difficult for the prison to convey inmates to locations since the bus was seized, adding that: “We have to hire taxis to take prisoners to courts and to other locations.”
He indicated that apart from the fact that it was risky to use taxis to convey inmates, it was also a drain on the scanty resources of the prison.
ASP Nertey pointed out that last week when the female football team of the prison, which is participating in the national football league, had to honour a match in Tamale, they had to rely on a bus from their counterparts in Kumasi.
He stated that the plaintiff was now bent on seizing the pickup, in addition to the bus.
ASP Nertey appealed to the government to intervene for the bus to be released to ensure the smooth running of the prison.
He emphasised that the operation of the prison might come to a halt if immediate action was not taken for the release of the bus.