, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – Members of Parliament are set to move to the Sh920 million refurbished, high-tech chamber next Tuesday at a function to be officiated by President Mwai Kibaki.
This follows the completion of major works of the 400-seater new chamber that has been undergoing renovation for the past three years.
“Honourable Members as you are aware, the refurbishment of the new chamber commenced on April 6, 2010 and after all the works undertaken by respective subcontractors, it is now complete,” Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende said in his communication to the House.
The MPs have been using Parliament’s old chamber, which can hardly accommodate 150 MPs, since the refurbishment works began in 2010.
The new picturesque horse-shoe design comes with state-of-the-art technology, including a public address system, electronic voting system and computer monitors.
Unlike the current arrangement where members have to stand to catch the attention of the Speaker, the new chamber has electronic buzzers which members will press to alert the Speaker whenever they want to contribute to the business of the House.
National Assembly staff are undergoing in-house training on electronic voting under the stewardship of experts from Germany.
The Clerk of the National Assembly Patrick Gichohi said this will enable the staff handle the facilities that come with the new chamber.
The ultra-modern debating chamber is set to give members greater sitting space, ambience and personal comfort, with specially designed slots for persons with physical disabilities.
It also caters for live broadcast of parliamentary proceedings and the anticipated increase of members following the creation of 80 additional constituencies and 47 women representatives from counties.
The horse-shoe design which is borrowed from the German Bundestag and the Tanzanian Parliament has between 350 and 400 individualised seats for MPs, and 20 mobile seats to cater for any extra numbers.
The retractable seats, which cost Sh200,000 each will be numbered and labelled with the MPs’ names.
Apart from the MPs, there is a seating capacity of 600 in the media, public, diplomats’ and Speaker’s galleries.
The new chamber also allows the Speaker to disable the microphone of a member who breaches House rules such as making false allegations or raising frivolous Points of Order.
Every seat is installed with a computer monitor to enable intra-communication within the chamber.