The Guyana Prison Service yesterday morning officially commissioned a $118 million boat in honour of prison officer Troy Williams, who was killed in the line of duty during the February 23, 2002 Camp Street prison jailbreak.
Williams, 21, of Berbice, was fatally stabbed during the jailbreak, which saw the escape of five prisoners, who subsequently led an unprecedented crime wave.
The twin screw passenger-cargo vessel, ML Troy-W, which was constructed by the Guyana National Industrial Company Incorporated (GNIC), will be used to transport prisoners, staff and cargo between Parika and the Mazaruni Prison.
It can transport a maximum of 80 persons and has a maximum cargo capacity of 60 tonnes. Construction commenced in May this year and concluded last month.
After a ribbon cutting exercise by Williams’ mother and sister at the GNIC wharf on Lombard Street, the boat set sail on a test run in the Demerara River yesterday.
The vessel “Godfrey J” had been previously used for close to 17 years to transport prisoners between Parika and Mazaruni Prison and to also provide services to persons living in the Mazaruni compound.
Director of Prisons (ag) Gladwin Samuels, who delivered an emotional address at the commissioning, said it was only fitting that after the significant investment in the new vessel that it be named after an officer who served with distinction. He noted that the selection of Williams, whom he described as a hero and his best friend, was quite easy. “It’s a very emotional day for me, having been transferred from the Mazaruni Prison the same day, [we] worked together and then for him to lose his life, it is difficult,” he said.
According to Samuels, Williams was someone who was committed to his job. “If I had an opportunity to ask prison officers to be like someone, I would literally asked them to be like Troy Williams. He was someone very contented, committed to what he signed up for [and] despite the challenges he gave his best. Being a prison officer is not no easy task but Troy Williams was someone who was extremely passionate about his job,” he noted. On the day of his death, Samuels said, Williams was responsible for a sector of the prison where numerous high profile inmates were housed and he single-handedly tried to ensure it was secure. “Despite being stabbed multiple times, he didn’t give up… he did everything possible on that day to ensure that division was secure,” he explained. “The Prison Service will be forever indebted to Troy Williams for all his commitment to the organisation… I trust that this vessel will be given the care that is due to it so that we remember someone who gave his best to this organisation. We will treat this vessel with the same value,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, who also spoke at the commissioning, said that the administration has recently taken a decision to ensure that the assets of the security sector are new and not refurbished. “One big aspect had to do with getting brand new assets and not those which are old…,” he said.
Ramjattan added that he has no problem with spending the money to ensure that the comfort level, the efficiencies and the proficiencies of the Prison Service are met.
“…And so it is all in keeping with the modernisation [of] the Prison Service and we intend to do that which we have to for purposes of land transportation, water transportation and of course ensuring that we spend the monies,” he noted.
Minister of Public Infra-structure David Patterson and senior members of the Joint Services were also among those in attendance at the launching ceremony.