Friday, July 12, 2024

Outrage over Ghana’s $200m new parliament chamber plan

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Ibrahim Alhassan
Ibrahim Alhassan
Ibrahim Alhassan is a Ghanaian journalist who focuses on political reporting in Africa.

There is a huge public uproar in Ghana over plans to construct a new chamber for parliamentarians at a cost of $200 million.

The 450 seater chamber is to replace the current one which houses the 275 members of the Ghana’s Parliament.

The project which is expected to commence before the end of 2019 will be located on the location of the current building.

The project is being undertaken by internationally renowned Ghanaian architect, Sir. David Frank Adjaye. The new multi-purpose chamber will host a mosque, chapel, eatery and a parliamentary museum.

The leadership of Ghana’s parliament including the speaker Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye Snr expressed excitement about prospects of the project.

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However these excitements are not shared by some lawmakers and many Ghanaians.

Three members of parliament; Ras Mubarak, Alhassan Suhuyini and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa from the opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC have openly rejected the project arguing it’s a misplaced priority.

“I see a number of schools in my constituency where students are still writing on their bellies and it breaks my heart. I see women who go long distances to carry water that those who are privileged to be in the positions we are in will not even use to wash our cars.”

“For us to have the privilege we have today, not to prioritize their problems and to think of the comfort of where we will sit and work, I think is a shame,” Tamale North MP Suhuyini wrote on Facebook.

Some lawmakers belonging to the majority have equally publicly expressed their opposition to the new chamber for the legislature.

Ruling party lawmaker Patrick Yaw Boamah has also rejected the project arguing the timing is wrong.

Outrage from Ghanaians

Some Ghanaians have also taken to social media to register their disapproval of the project.

There are two separate social media campaigns urging the Parliamentary Service Board to abandon the idea. #DropThatChamber and #Itwillnothappen

Leadership Defence

In a rare appearance on morning TV, the majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu defended the need for a new House but noted that they will be sensitive to the views of Ghanaians.

“We will try explaining to them why we need this edifice but if after that people are still not in favour, we will then have no choice but to shelve it,” the Majority leader said.

Reacting to concerns of misplaced priority the Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu argued there will never be a time where the project can be undertaken without a section of the public referencing to the poor living conditions of some Ghanaians.

“So, let’s not really say that not until we satisfied the basic human needs others things are luxurious. Let nobody tell me that not until maybe we are able to provide clothing for everybody, not until we are able to provide adequate housing to everybody these other things are luxuries.

Presidential Blessing

Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament had disclosed that President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo has already endorsed the project.

Speaking during the unveiling of the design of the project last week Prof. Oquaye said the president will be the one to cut the sod for the commencement of the project.

“The President in principle has actually agreed to come and cut the sod the moment we are ready. So, you could see that there’s a lot of goodwill for this project,” Prof. Oquaye said

The President has not spoken on the issue yet.




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