Despite the completion of the State Tower Block, popularly known as Job 600, to provide office accommodation to Members of Parliament (MPs), twenty-three (23) out 275 lawmakers are still without offices.
These MPs, all first ‘timers’ either perch with their colleague Members and transact business from their offices or operate from their car booths.
However, things could change in the next two years ahead as a seven-storey building under the Supplementary MPs’ Offices (Job 600 Annex) which forms part of the Parliament House Physical Infrastructure Enhancement Project has been approved by the Parliamentary Service Board.
The project is estimated to cost US$23,074,249 or its cedi equivalent of GH?92, 296, 99.36 and is expected to provide office accommodation for the 23 Members and their support staff as well as provide office accommodation for staff of the Parliamentary Service.
Briefing his colleague MPs over the project on the floor of the House, Wednesday, the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said prior to approving the project, the Parliamentary Service Board of the Sixth Parliament accepted a financial proposal from the contractor that refurbished the Job 600 Tower Block, Messrs China State Hualong Construction Limited of its willingness to raise the required funds to pre-finance the project on a design-and-build arrangement.
“Mr. Speaker, even though all the pre-contract works were duly undertaken, the Parliamentary Service Board of the Sixth Parliament could not award a contract to the project for execution as its mandate expired after the general elections.
As you are aware, the Board of the Seventh Parliament has been constituted and the project under reference has engaged the attention of the new Board.
Discussions are ongoing on the need to increase the number beyond the current 23. As soon as a determination is made, processes leading to the award of contract in respect of the project would be triggered and I want to assure the House that the contract will be awarded in accordance with due process for construction works to commence in earnest,” he noted.
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s comment follows a question which was put to him by the honourable Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Kwame Dafeamekpor Etse Rockson-Nelson as to “when offices shall be provided for the 23 other Members of Parliament who are without offices.”
The Job 600 Office Complex which was refurbished into Offices for MPs took into consideration the total Membership of Parliament which stood at 200 at the inception of the 4th Republic. When the membership of Parliament increased to 230, the then Board ensured an increase in the number of offices to 252. This was to make for the 24 additional offices for purposes as may be determined by the Board.
The coming into force of the Representation of the People’s (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument, 2012 (C.I. 78) eventually led to an increase in the number of Members of Parliament from 230 to 275, an addition of 45 new constituencies.
Why no office for 23 MPs
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu speaking further on the matter explained why there was a shortfall of office accommodation for 23 Members despite the completion of the Job 600 Office Complex.
“At the time Membership of Parliament increased to 275, the civil works for the refurbishment of the Block had been completed and further tempering with the structure would have involved a lot of demolition with attendant huge financial implications.
Apart from the huge financial outlays as a result of any demolition, the structural integrity of the building would have been compromised and hence necessitated relevant adjustments and reinforcement.
It is these considerations and the effect of huge additional loads to a structure that itself was over 50 years that resulted in maintaining the original facility.
This, therefore, resulted in a shortfall of office accommodation for 23 out of the additional 45 Members that joined Parliament in 2012.”