Denpasar. Repairs to the notorious Kerobokan Prison after February’s prisoner-led takeover and arson will cost Rp 91 billion ($9.9 million), with the money needed immediately so work can begin, Bali officials say.
The amount is almost 20 times the most recent estimate for repairs of Rp 5 billion, up from an initial estimate of Rp 1.2 billion.
Despite the high price tag, it seems the proposed work would not solve Kerobokan’s biggest problem, which is overcrowding.
“We project that the repairs can be hurried through in seven months instead of the year that would otherwise be required,” Priyadi, chief of Bali’s justice and human rights office, said on Tuesday.
Priyadi said the pressing repairs were needed because the prison’s administrative facilities had been destroyed in a fire set by prisoners during the rioting, in which prisoners were in control of the facility for 10 hours.
He said a new three-storey administration building would cost Rp 20 billion to build.
Other repairs were needed for the penitentiary’s cells, many of which were damaged during the riot, and in any case were too old, he said.
“Almost all the cell walls are constructed from cinder blocks. The cell bars are made from hollow steel. If they are forced by five prisoners they can be bent,” Priyadi said.
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Commentators have blamed several riots at Kerobokan on overcrowding, but Priyadi said the Bali provincial government had failed to find an alternative site for the prison that would allow it to expand to provide decent conditions for the 1,015 people usually incarcerated within it. Kerobokan was designed for an inmate population of roughly a third of that.
Priyadi also said plans to build a special prison for drug-using convicts in Bali’s Bangli district had stalled because the Rp 90 billion in funds required had not been provided.
“That special prison could have accommodated up to 700 people, which would have solved the overcrowding problem,” Priyadi said. “The only option available right now is to rebuild [Kerobokan] where it is.”
Another problem that required attention was the insufficient budget for prison wardens, Priyadi said. On the night the riot broke out, prisoners outnumbered guards 50 to 1.
The poor security situation in the prison has been blamed for a flourishing trade in drugs and other illicit services.
Priyadi said that he requested to move some of the prisoners to less-crowded facilities in nearby Java. Some have been moved, at least temporarily.
On Monday, Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin requested Rp 1.3 trillion in additional funding from the House of Representatives to improve remand centers and prisons across the country.