9 July 2019

Ghana: Parliament 'Drops' New Chamber Plan ... After Public Outcry

PARLIAMENT has suspended plans to construct a new 450-seater capacity chamber complex estimated to cost US$200 million.

The decision to drop the plan is in response to public outcry following the announcement by the Speaker of the House, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, a fortnight ago.

Parliament's Acting Director of Public Affairs, Madam Kate Addo, speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday said, "Parliament respects the views of the people and has suspended plans to construct the new chamber.

"There is the need to pull the break on the decision to construct the new chamber because the House respects the views of the people."

According to Kate Addo, it would be nice if Parliament got a new chamber but "for the time being, we have suspended that plan in view of public sentiments until at a time it may be necessary".

The Parliamentary Service Board, the body championing the construction, she said, it would be meeting to issue a public statement on the matter "but I can confirm that in the face of everything, the plan to have the new chamber has been suspended".

The House has been heavily criticised ever since Speaker Prof Oquaye at a media engagement unveiled the artistic plan of the proposed chamber which was expected to start at the end of this year.

As part of the opposition to the edifice, members of the Economic Fighters League, a pressure group led by a former Youth Organiser of the Convention Peoples Party, Ernesto Yeboah, last Friday stormed the chamber and protested the decision by the House to build a new chamber.

The protestors who were arrested have been granted a police enquiry bail totalling GHȻ4,000 with one surety each.

A social media campaign under the hashtag 'DropThatChamber' has been trending with a street protest scheduled for Saturday June 13, 2019.

Meanwhile, some Members of Parliament have also kicked against the new chamber complex.

Arguing that the current 275-member chamber is functional, the MPs claim they are unaware of the proposed chamber.

They have thus impressed on the Parliamentary Service Board and their leadership to discard the idea.

Commenting on the turn of events, the Commander-In-Chief of the Economic Fighters League, Ernesto Yeboah, however, said the plan must be abandoned totally.

"What we want is a total abandonment of the idea and not a suspension. If they say they have suspended the idea, it means they could come back to it later but we want that idea of a new chamber abandoned totally," he told this paper.

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