THE Zambia Prisons Service (ZPS) has resorted to transporting prisoners to court in open vans because of acute shortage of transport, commissioner of Prisons Percy Chato has said.
And Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila has implored security wings to continue playing their part in fostering peace in Zambia.
Mr Chato has since implored Government to come to the aid of ZPS because transporting prisoners in open vans is not safe and poses a danger to both society and officers as some inmates are dangerous criminals.
“Despite your Government’s intervention mid-last year to allocate 10 trucks to the service, we are still facing transport challenges for both administration and taking prisoners to court. Currently, we use open vans,” he said.
Mr Chato said on Friday night in Kabwe during the 2014 ZPS annual ball that in areas like Kabwe, there has been public outcry over the use of open vans to transport prisoners.
He also complained of acute shortage of accommodation for officers, saying some officers live in dilapidated houses in camps while others live in rented houses in various townships and this is a challenge when mobilising them for emergency duties.
Mr Chato reiterated that lack of human resource negatively affects operations, as currently, there are 2,418 officers, against a population of over 18, 000 inmates.
“With this scenario, we need to recruit officers for us to reach the one officer to four inmates recommended ratio,” he said.
Mr Chato also urged Government to harmonise ranking structures and salaries for security departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
He, however, said ZPS scored several successes last year, adding that in agriculture, it produced 63,071 x 50kg bags of maize as compared to 60,500 bags produced in 2013.
Meanwhile, Mr Mwila has commended security wings for the role they play in maintaining internal peace before, during and after the January 20 presidential elections.
And responding to Mr Chato’s call for harmonisation of salaries and conditions of service, Mr Mwila said his ministry will engage Cabinet Office over the matter.
“We have to engage our colleagues at Cabinet Office on why Zambia Police and Zambia Prisons salaries and conditions were not harmonised,” he said.
Zambia Daily Mail