July 19, 2012…The Ministry of Public Works finally handed the newly refurbished and modernized debating Chamber for the Kenya National Assembly to Parliament, delivering on yet another milestone that heralds a new era for the August House.
In a low-key ceremony held at the new Chamber, Public Works Minister Chris Obure told the speaker, Kenneth Marende, a handful MPs, senior officials from Parliamentary Service Commission and Ministry of Public Works and the consultants and contractor who did the job, that the refurbished Chamber would take care of the expected increase in numbers of MPs in Parliament in line with the new political dispensation as it has a capacity 350 members.
“During the construction of this project, the country adopted a new Constitution,” said the Minister. “Not only is it aimed at creating the right and proper atmosphere for debates complete with state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment and electronic voting gadgets to make it easy for MPs to participate in the proceedings from the comfort of their seats, the refurbished Chamber aims at improving the seating arrangement and enhance friendliness to members with disabilities.”
The redesigned Chamber has adopted a horse shoe concept which fosters a better interaction of members of the House and is less adversarial. The seating arrangement rises up away from the centre to allow for better visual links for the MPs and the Speaker. Cabling for services has been laid in the space below the members’ seating areas.
Among the salient features are facilities that will allow members to vote electronically from the comfort of their workstations in the Chamber, radio and TV broadcasting facilities which will not only ensure live transmission from the debating Chamber but also make it easier to store and retrieve records of the proceedings, interior décor that improves sound quality and captures the country’s national cultural diversity and richness and an automatic fire suppression system to protect the facility.
The refurbishment of the Chamber started in April 2010 and was completed in May 2012 at a cost of Ksh950 million. The works were undertaken by local contractors led by EPCO Builders.
Most of the materials used were sourced locally, except those related to the electronic systems. The high quality seats were manufactured and installed Prisons Industries.