Long-delayed Ká Hó Prison construction still years away

The director of the Correctional Services Bureau (DSC), Cheng Fong Meng, reported on the progress of the construction of Ká Hó Prison yesterday on the sidelines of a celebration for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year.

Currently, the construction company is in the third phase of building the new prison, which is expected to be completed in another 693 working days, or nearly two years.

The construction of Ká Hó Prison started in 2010 and was scheduled to complete in 2014. In 2016, two years after it was initially scheduled to finish, the first phase, which consisted of the watch tower, walls and other facilities, was completed. The second phase of construction started in 2016 and was completed in 2018. 

The first, second and the third phases costed 140 million, 1.05 billion, and 739 million patacas respectively.

The fourth phase has not yet gone to public tender and so its budget remains unknown. The fourth phase will consist of the installation of a security system, an internet system and a telecommunications system.

Despite having been under construction for nearly a decade, the prison’s completion date is still unclear.

The DSC director explained that construction delays were caused by changes to the design as the result of the unstated geographical features of the land plot where the new prison would be located. These changes, in turn, meant another round of approval procedures was required from the land and public affairs authority.

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak remarked yesterday that due to the prison’s capacity issues, the security authority has faced added pressure and concerns whenever criminals are arrested.

Wong said that he and his colleagues were deeply concerned with the delays.

“We [Wong’s Secretariat] and the Correctional Services Bureau are more anxious than other people,” said Wong, as cited by public broadcaster TDM. “Firstly, it is about the environment of the inmates. This environment is important for inmates’ daily lives. Secondly, it is important for the workers in the Correctional Services Bureau. Especially when we have to consider if there are [enough] spaces for the convicts. Although it is not our biggest concern, this factor affects our law enforcement.”

Previously, lawmaker Ella Lei had accused the contractor of poor design and accused the government of improper monitoring of the contractor.

As of December 31, 2019, Coloane prison held 1,636 inmates, 821 of whom were mainlanders and 420 were Macau residents. Some 1,435 were male inmates and 201 were female.

The prison is close to its maximum capacity. The DSC has temporarily converted some training facilities into prison cells. JZ

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