Prime News Ghana

Why Ghana needs a new parliament chamber

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
Parliament of Ghana
Parliament of Ghana

Majority leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has given reasons for which there is a need for a new parliament chamber.

Reports earlier this week indicated that parliament is considering building a new chamber that will have 450 seats estimated to cost $200m.

The Ghanaian public and civil societies vehemently disagree with the proposed new building for the legislators.

Speaking on Citi TV's 'Point of View' show in reaction to the new chamber debate in the public domain, the majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the new chamber will curb the many challenges they face as a house.

According to him, the new 450 seater chamber will help adequately accommodate visitors, especially on occasions that Ministers and former Presidents visit the house.

"On occasions we have ministers coming to parliament who will need to be accommodated there, we have a special guest of the Speaker, former head of states enter with their spouses they need to be properly seated."

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu also stated that the issue about some MPs not contributing to discussions on the floor will be solved because the new chamber will allow the Speaker to easily identify any member who wants to contribute to an ongoing discussion.

"When this chamber was increased to 275 seats, it exposed the columns in the chamber. Many members sit behind these columns and are not able to attract the eye of the Speaker"

The majority leader noted that the current state of the chamber will also be a problem in case of any disaster.

"The exit path are now chocking in the event of any unfortunate incident and people want to rush out it may be a trouble for us."

In reaction to concerns about misplaced priorities, he said development is a holistic approach and the country cannot wait to attend one aspect fully before addressing the rest.

" first of all it's easy to talk about it the way you are doing, when you go into the design you will realise that if you see the pillar in there and you remove it, that whole edifice will collapse so it's the original configuration of the structure, parliament is a serious debating chamber and when a member is talking and you want to rebut whatever he/she is saying.......... why ain't we comparing it to Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden and Italy it doesn't compare to this, the British we all know are Ultra-Conservatives and so they decided in fact even when there was this threat of terrorist attack it came up for discussion but overwhelming majority said we've been in this game for more than 300 years we want to preserve and conserve this facility, we don't want any expansion but everywhere else, so why are people not talking about those ones.

"But the basic need of every human being is food, clothes and shelter we really need to attend to these because as of yet not too many of our people can have three square meals a day we should be concerned, 2010 housing census indicated to us that there are 120, 000 kiosks which is serving as residence for some Ghanaians, this is scary, we should be concerned but we have these problems and at the same time we are building stadia with the peoples money, the same time building National Conference Centre, at the same time we are building the National Theatre so when you make it appear as if with these things not obtained, we have gone off tangent.... in the development of every nation, any human being is holistic we should be looking entirely at the whole gamut of what should constitute to development for us otherwise one will say that not until we are able to provide adequate food security for ourselves, clothes and housing we should not even think of providing schooling.."

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu concluded that there is no need for this early debate because the proposed building is with the Parliamentary Service Board and has not yet reached the floor.

"This is not a decision we are making today. The reason the Board is considering this is because of the myriad of challenges confronting the current chamber."