Building a new chamber for Parliament should not be a priority for Ghana, the Executive Director, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) has said.
Rasheed Draman believes that while there are many plaguing issues the country needs to address, a new Parliamentary building is not one of them.
“I think we have a number of burning priorities as a nation. Especially given that this is coming on the back of the hue and cry that characterised the cost of the refurbishment and renovations that took place in the current chamber when Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho was Speaker of the 6th Parliament,” Dr. Draman said on Joy FM’s Newsnite.
The exterior of the new chamber
The refurbishments and renovations he referred to took place in 2014 where GHÈ»22 million was invested in the facelift of the current chamber.
Two years later, however, the seats which were imported from China were replaced after they began tearing up, sparking widespread criticism.
Another two years on, the current Parliament has announced that as part of the Parliament House Physical Infrastructure Enhancement project which is currently ongoing, a new chamber will be built.
The 450-seater new project has been awarded to renowned British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye but Parliament is yet to determine the total cost of construction.
Dr Draman does not see the need for a new chamber
The new structure is expected to have libraries, a parliamentary museum, prayer areas for MPs of all religions, a canteen, interview areas, among others.
The current parliamentary chamber which can seat up to only 270 MPs will be turned into an auxiliary conference facility for parliament.
Construction is expected to begin before the end of 2019.
The project has received massive backing from MPs but Dr Draman is amazed by the decision.
“The question is have we had value enough for the investment that has been made in this current chamber,” he queried.
The architect showing the leadership of the House the architectural design of the new chamber
Dr Draman who claims to have seen all Parliaments in Africa, described the current chamber as “one of the beautiful Parliaments in terms of the design, look.
“I have brought in delegations from different African countries to our Parliament. Most recently, I was there with a delegation from Burkina Faso and there was a lot of admiration for what we have,” he said.
For a country that borrows traditions from the United Kingdom, the governance expert is worried that instead of learning from their ability to preserve monumental structures, he is worried that the country’s leaders rather seem to have a “penchant for procurement, pulling structures down and spending money that we do not have.”
“You go to England today and sometimes, MPs have to stand to carry our Parliamentary business because they want to preserve tradition,” he added.