Need to visit Parliament? – Here’s how to access it
There are places around the world where one cannot just walk in and out as though it was a market. For instance, located on a secluded island in the North Sea, the Dooms Day Seed Vault is one of the most guarded places on earth for it is home to over 250 million crop seeds. It is not only impossible for man to reach, but also protected against a disaster involving the melting of icecaps. This is intended to be used to feed the human population in case of a breakdown in the world order leading to food insecurity, a very prudent move to make.
Let me bring it back to the local scene: anything you attach value to will definitely be well protected from intruders. Take a look at how Bank of Uganda or maybe the President of Uganda is heavily guarded… his intelligence will be sent to a place the President intends to visit weeks before he makes the said visit. That is probably an over kill. But look at how well protected your academic documents are! You hardly see them yourself, yet they are yours! Well, the Parliament is one of such places in Uganda that is, and needs to be well protected for it is one of the three Arms of Government, which is primarily responsible for making of laws for the well governance of Uganda. Unlike the dooms day seed vault however, Uganda’s Parliament is located in the heart of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
If you were to make plans to visit Parliament of Uganda for whatever reason, be informed that it is a heavily fortified and security issues are not taken lightly. You therefore have a number of things that need to be put into consideration, for it is a place that is of great importance to Uganda. These factors to consider range from access points to how to conduct yourself while within the building.
First of all, you will have to be in the know of access point you are going to use. Currently there are three active gates to Parliament, the Main Gate (Southern Gate) which is on Parliamentary Avenue, the Northern Gate opposite the National Theatre, and the Western Gate which is near the Office of the President.
The Southern Gate is mostly reserved for Members of Parliament and VIPs, whereas the Western and Northern Gates are for staff of Parliament and other walk-in guests. For guests who plan to come with their cars, there is ample parking space accessed from the Western Gate, with its exit being the northern gate.
Be sure that you have a valid identification with you so as to get clearance at the gate, whereupon you will be duly registered and given a Visitor’s Card. This doubles as your electronic key while entering the building. You must also wear the visitor’s card around your neck for easy identification. All the other staff members and press wear their identification cards anyway, so you will not be isolated.
If you are in possession of a firearm, you will be required to register it at the gate, and leave it there whichever side you use. No firearms are allowed within the premises of Parliament, whatsoever.
Now, we all know schools around the country organise school trips, and there are different interest groups who want to have a look at how the building is constructed, how Parliament conducts its business, and some historical excerpts at parliament. The procedure is that you write to Public Relations Office (PRO), requesting for an opportunity to visit, and suggest a date therein. The PRO will then notify you of the available dates, and upon your visit, they will guide your team of visitors around Parliament.
In the absence of security, people will live in constant stress, which affects both mental and physical health. As a result, there are several security measures that have been put in place, both in and around the building, at all times. There are cameras at all entrances and corridors of Parliament, there are walk – through metal detectors at all entrances (gates and doors), and bag scanners for those who plan to sneak something into the building or at the point of exit, those who elongate their hands and relocate parliament property in to their bags. If you are carrying any laptops, you will also be required to register it at the entrance. Be informed that there are several police and military officers in both uniform and plain clothing, who are dedicated to ensure that there is no cause for alarm whatsoever in the building.
Having been cleared by security at the entrance, there is a reception desk at the North and South wings of Parliament, where you will get the necessary assistance you need. If you are on appointment with any Member of Parliament or the Speaker’s office, there is a waiting room where you will be ushered effectively.
The Parliament of the republic of Uganda remains a public office, where all Ugandans are free to visit. However, be informed that security reserves the right to admit you, with valid reasons. If you are improperly dressed, for instance, ladies in very short clothing, or see-through dresses, you may not be allowed to gain access to the building. Remember not to appear to be idling around the building, for you will also be asked to leave. The premises remain a tobacco – free environment, so smoking is not allowed on or near the premises.