Recent heavy rain showers have come as welcome news to about 1,500 inmates and more than 100 prison guards at Prey Sar prison, providing a brief respite from the prison’s ongoing water shortage, the prison’s director said Thursday.
The prison, which is not piped to an external water supply, depends heavily on rainwater, director Kim Sarin said. Though the prison’s pool can hold up to 400,000 cubic meters, its level remains low, Kim Sarin said.
During the dry season, the prison is forced to use unsanitary water from nearby Prek Tnoat river, said Ham Sun Rith, Prey Sar supervisor for local rights group Licadho, which works closely with the prison.
Staff routinely cook with dirty water at the prison, said Nuon Kimhom, a prison guard.
“We cook rice and it becomes red and colorful,” Nuon Kimhong said. “We dug a well for water but there was no water.”
Licadho warned the government the prison would face problems accessing water before the prison was built, Licadho founder Kek Galabru said Thursday.
The International Red Cross recently provided Prey Sar with several water tanks, Ham Sun Rith said.
In the occurrence of future rain water shortages at the prison, prison authorities will continue to take water from the river or have it trucked in from Phnom Penh, Samkol Sokhan, director of the prison department at the Interior Ministry, said Thursday.
Although the prison has two generators, it also suffers from electricity shortages, he said.
In 2003, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema visited the prison, which is situated about
20 km from Phnom Penh, and promised to supply it with water this month, Kim Sarin said. Kim Sarin added that he would like to remind Kep Chuktema to keep his promise.
Numerous attempts to contact Kep Chuktema by telephone were unsuccessful Thursday.