, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – A four year plan to construct an ultra-modern 27 storey office block to house the expanded 418-member legislature kicked off on Thursday after the Parliamentary Service Commission formally handed over the project to a Chinese firm, China Jiangxi Construction Company.
The proposed building which also includes four basement parking floors and a tunnel connecting to both chambers of Parliament will be erected on a one-acre plot between Continental House and County Hall in Nairobi at a cost of Sh5.8 billion shillings.
The plot was allocated to Parliament by the government in 2000.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi said the building will accommodate the bi-cameral Parliament by creating additional committee rooms and other facilities.
“I think with the completion of this then Parliament as constituted under the Constitution will now have sufficient space within which to perform its various functions,” he said.
Muturi who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission which is mandated to look into the welfare of lawmakers and Parliament’s staff said they have had a difficult time acquiring offices in buildings near Parliament.
The PSC abandoned an initial plan to acquire two buildings owned by co-operative societies in Nairobi because they could not meet their asking price.
MPs have complained that some of them have been forced to work from their cars and hotels, while some have been seen meeting the constituents along Parliament Road and other streets because they lack office space.
MPs already have offices in the County Hall Building, Continental House (which houses official offices for the legislators), Kenyatta International Convention Centre (where the Senate temporarily sits and has offices) and Protection House.
PSC Secretary and Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegene had said that Members of Parliament who had not been allocated offices by the end of November last year would be given Sh75,000 monthly for rent.
Nyegene indicated that they had difficulty finding offices for the MPs inside buildings located near Parliament or in the Central Business District because of the high rent.
Monthly rental prices on commercial spaces range between Sh60 to Sh100 per square foot depending on the quality of the building, indicating that the State rents about 3.5 million square feet in privately owned property.
Muturi expressed confidence that the Chinese firm will be able to complete the office block within the timelines despite also having won the tender for the now suspended controversial Sh5 billion Tassia settlement project advertised by the National Social Security Fund.
The Tassia project includes 90.4km of tarmac road reserves between the width of six to 15 metres and the equivalent number for street lighting, 124kms of culverts and storm water drainage, 66kms of sewer pipes of diameters ranging from 225mm to 450mm. Other infrastructural developments to be undertaken by the Chinese firm include the construction of over 12,000 manholes, 15.7kms of water reticulation and 69kms of wastewater drainage in the Tassia project.
The National Speaker appealed for patience from the MPs for inconveniences they may have to suffer when the construction takes off.
He said that the alternative parking plans at Continental House had already been effected noting that MPs will only be dropped at Continental House and then their vehicles directed to nearby off-site parking.