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 chambers. In 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 chamber, because 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.