Why par­lia­ment should­n’t con­struct new cham­ber at par­lia­ment av­enue nor Kam­pala met­ro­pol­i­tan area

By: Mugoya Musa

The cur­rent num­ber of 431 MPs and their in­evitable in­crease to 458 by end of 10th Par­lia­ment from 88 in the Colo­nial era, cou­pled with ap­prox­i­mately 450 staff has caused the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mis­sion to em­bark on the process of con­struct­ing new cham­bersIn its cur­rent state, the ra­tio of seats to MPs is 1:5 and a new cham­ber boast­ing of a hall of ho­n­our, of­fice space, a state of the art con­fer­ence hall for the press and li­brary will be erected where the north­ern wing park­ing lot cur­rently is.

While Par­lia­ment is very ac­ces­si­ble and the most vis­ited state in­sti­tu­tion in Uganda, it’s in my opin­ion that the Com­mis­sion ought to con­sider con­struct­ing the cham­ber in a dif­fer­ent place away from the Kam­pala Met­ro­pol­i­tan Area due to a num­ber of rea­sons,

The pro­posed space is not am­ple for a cham­berbe­cause the main Par­lia­ment build­ing could not com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date all MPs in the 9th Par­lia­ment, the com­mis­sion pre­vi­ously rented Bau­man House for some MPs that were later trans­ferred to De­vel­op­ment House, af­ter the ac­qui­si­tion of the build­ing by par­lia­ment. How­ever, the build­ing has proved in­ad­e­quate to house the bal­ance of the leg­is­la­tors and staff left with­out of­fice space at the main par­lia­ment build­ing, due to the grow­ing num­bers.

One of the cur­rent park­ing lot which is the area cho­sen to erect the new cham­bers is quite small al­though the com­mis­sion deems it fit. As ear­lier men­tioned, Par­lia­ment re­ceives a vast num­ber of vis­i­tors daily; for­eign del­e­gates, con­stituents, 4 schools on av­er­age and oth­ers and it can­not ac­com­mo­date their ve­hi­cles.

If Par­lia­ment fol­lows through with its plan, the CHOGM gar­dens will be the only free space left. Per­haps when the num­ber of MPs and staff in­creases, a new build­ing will also be con­structed there. This goes against the plans to de­con­gest the Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict

There has been a grow­ing pre­dis­po­si­tion among Ugan­dans that demon­strat­ing and strik­ing at the Na­tional Par­lia­ment is a fea­si­ble way to get the at­ten­tion of the au­thor­i­ties. Not only do these acts pose a se­cu­rity risk by char­ac­ters who may maybe un­der the guise of pro­tes­tors but also al­ter­ca­tions at such ar­eas can cause se­cu­rity to use the nec­es­sary force be­fit­ting of a Na­tional Par­lia­ment, and passers-by and other dis­in­ter­ested par­ties can be caught off guard. Such threats are wors­ened be­cause the pro­posed cham­bers are very close to the road. This is on ad­di­tion to the traf­fic jam that makes the in­sti­tu­tion in­ac­ces­si­ble es­pe­cially dur­ing rush hours.

Shift­ing the leg­is­la­ture for in­stance to Bu­daka or Kiryan­dongo has its eco­nomic ben­e­fits aris­ing from trans­fer of a num­ber of ser­vices. Cur­rently, the Kam­pala Met­ro­pol­i­tan area is the coun­try’s com­mer­cial, ad­min­is­tra­tive as well in­dus­trial city. A num­ber of goods and ser­vices will crop up to suit the staff and Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, var­i­ous civil so­ci­ety, par­lia­ment fo­rums and me­dia staff who work in par­lia­ment. This will be a ready mar­ket for the goods and ser­vices in terms of ho­tel, trans­port, and hous­ing, among other in that par­tic­u­lar area.

The un­der­ly­ing is­sue is that Uganda does­n’t need such a bloated Par­lia­ment, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the pop­u­la­tion size.  It is also a recipe for in­creased gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture like in this case of con­struc­tion of new cham­bers. Given the fact that there is a zero chance that the num­ber of MPs will re­duce, it is only fea­si­ble that a more suit­able lo­ca­tion is cho­sen out of the Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict.