At a time some government officials are busily amassing wealth and building mansions in expensive places across the length and breath of the country, the over 3,300  inmates at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons are wailing and gnashing their teeth, as a result of an acute water shortage in the prison yard.

The water tanker meant to supply inmates with water has been commercialised, some inmates alleged. Three out of the four boreholes meant to supplement supply of water in the prison yard are also malfunctioning, with the remaining one at the back of Block 5 seriously under pressure.

Water boys (prisoners who pump water in the prison yard) have taken advantage of the situation, and are making huge amounts of money. It is not clear who the water boys are working for, but sources say some prison officers are aware of the situation, but have failed to take the necessary action against them.

“We are really suffering,” recounts one inmate. A bucket of water (34mls) now sells at Gp30, while a gallon (Kufuor gallon) of water is sold at GH¢1.00.

“If you don’t have money over here, you are finished,” a frustrated inmate told The Chronicle.

The situation, The Chronicle learnt, was so severe that a Muslim organisation had to go to the aid of their brothers and sisters, by supplying them with water on Thursday, September 2, this year.

Patients at the infirmary were not spared this ordeal, as they also had to struggle on a daily basis in order to get water from the only surviving borehole for their upkeep.

“This is ridiculous. You have to queue for hours before one could get a bucket of water to bath and for other purposes. The taps are not flowing, and other boreholes are not functioning. We don’t know the reason why they are refusing to repair the broken down boreholes. We are really in hell,” another inmate told The Chronicle.

Further inquiries made by The Chronicle revealed that the borehole near the infirmary has been out of operation for so many years, as a result of low water table, making pumping very difficult. The other malfunctioning boreholes have also been out of service for some months now, as a result of wear and tear.

The Deputy Director of Prisons, Ben Lartey, who is the Commanding Officer in charge of the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, in a telephone interview with The Chronicle, admitted the acute water shortage at the prison yard, but noted that “it was temporary.”

“It is true that we had problems with water by the middle of the week, but those problems have been solved,” said Mr. Lartey.

According to him, the prison yard was hit with acute water shortages from September 19 -21, this year, but due to pragmatic measures put in place, those problems do not persist any longer.

He said the supply of water from the main pumping station to the prison yard experienced a technical fault, which was immediately attended to by the District Manager of the Ghana Water Company.

Continuing, he explained that when the prison yard started experiencing the acute water shortage, he contacted his bosses at the Prisons Headquarters in Accra, who immediately came to their rescue, by dispatching a tanker to supply them with water.

“We realised the problem on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, and called headquarters to come to our rescue, which they immediately did,” noted Mr. Lartey, in a perky voice.

He debunked the allegation that the water tanker was used for commercial purposes, and noted that prior to restoring the flow of tap water, the water tanker did a good job by filling all the reservoirs in the prison yard.

He told The Chronicle that his outfit was making efforts to repair the three broken down boreholes, in order to avoid any security threat, in the event the taps stop flowing. He said the broken down boreholes, with the exception of the one at the infirmary, could be repaired when his outfit gets the right support.

“We are in touch with the National Security Unit in charge of boreholes, and they’ve asked us to write formally to them. My outfit is also in touch with the Church of Christ bore holes drilling unit, to help us address the problems,” he said, adding “so far the results are positive.”

Asked whether he was aware of the activities of the water boys in the prison yard, Mr. Lartey answered in the negative, saying “I don’t think there is any truth in that. Where will the inmates get money to buy the water, if that is the case?”



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