Parliamentarian wants Chichiri Prison relocated

Member of Parliament for Blantyre City West and former deputy minister Thom Tarsizio Gowelo has requested authorities to consider relocating Chichiri Prison to Blantyre Rural to allow other developments at the place.

The former deputy minister said the prison needs to be moved away because times have change and the place is accommodating better development projects which must not be close to a prison.

The parliamentarian was speaking during a stakeholders’ consultative meeting organised by Blantyre City Council for residents to contribute to the council’s 2012 budget and overall developmental issues in the city.

Prisoners sit outside of Chichiri prison, one of Malawi's notoriously overcrowded jails. Photo credit Times Grouprary.

Said Gowelo: “Chichiri Prison needs reallocation because at the time of its construction there were no developments around, as such it was better placed. But now just look around, there are several projects taking place there and with the current scenario I do not think we need the prison at that area.

“I, therefore, request the Blantyre City Council to lobby government and all other relevant stakeholders to consider moving away the prison to another site in a remote part of Blantyre possibly in Mpemba area.”

Kumkuyu says nope

But Moses Kunkuyu, legislator for Blantyre City South, under whose jurisdiction the prison falls, laughed off the proposition saying he was not agreeing with his honourable colleague.

“What my honorable colleague is suggesting is a non-starter… A prison is a retirement home and I do not think in this modern era  retirement homes are constructed in outskirts.

“The prison happens to be in my constituency and as a member of parliament for the area, I feel it is centrally positioned and that suggestion should not be taken on board,” said the youthful Kunkuyu.

However, Kunkuyu seemed to have contradicted himself when he pointed out that the proposal must not be quashed in its entirety “as that idea might be supported by others considering that the prison is too old and small for the current Malawi.”

“Constructing a new one where my fellow Parliamentarian Honourable Gowelo has suggested could also be a good idea to decongest the prison,” said Kunkuyu, a leading figure in the 30 plus parliamentarians from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who have formed a faction calling it Hope Alliance to fight the autocratic tendencies of the party’s leadership.

On his part, BCC Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Ted Nandolo said the issue will be forwarded to relevant authorities for scrutiny and possible action.

If the proposition materializes then the prison would cease to be under the jurisdiction of City Council but rather the Blantyre District Council which is headed by the District Commissioner.

The outdated Chichiri Prison was built for 800 inmates but reports indicate that it is currently accommodating over 2000 inmates, a development human rights activists have strongly condemned government for.

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