How wealthy is Ghana? This is the question most Ghanains are grappling with, following speculations of a new 450 seat parliament of Ghana, set to be constructed sometime later this year. Tied to this question is the one, how many seats are in the Parliament of Ghana? Whatever the number, this new parliament complex will provide 450 seats, for parliamentarians to sit on while debating matters of national interest. There is no doubt that the new parliament complex will be big and grandiose. However, the cost of constructing these complex is yet to be fully grasped.
Ghanains could not hide their excitement about this new development. Most of them want to know how much the building will cost. In a bid to quench their thirst for this knowledge, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, the Speaker of parliament, said that the parliament is yet to fully understand the the full cost of the building set to be constructed later on this year. He however, shed some light about the firm that will work on the project. It is an architectural firm run by Sir David Frank Adjaye, a Ghanain architect based in the UK, of the Adjaye and Associate.
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He said that the firm battled its way through a rigorous tendering process, and emerged first, topping against two other firms. It secured the opportunity to design, and build the complex. However, the cost estimates and actual cost of the overall construction is yet to be released. He said,
“These are yet to be confirmed. So, we are working on that. In fact, we had a tender process at which we had three architectural firms competing for this job. One from abroad… The Institution of Engineers was asked to make an analysis and bring a report which was one-sided overwhelmingly in favour of those that were chosen. Ghana government has committed itself to some funding which is reflected in the budget. And we are also looking for external sources to complement that project.”
Reports by Joy news checks with regards to the 2019 budget of parliament, the institution allocated 72 million Ghana cedis for capital expenditure from a total of 268.2 million Ghana cedis allocated to it by the national treasury. Even with this data, it is not clear how much of the capital expenditure will be channeled towards the construction of the New parliamentary chamber building.
When the architect, Sir David Adjaye, was asked how he managed to win the bid to work on the project, he gave a simple and clear answer. He said he won because the plan he has aims,
"to make a building which is not just a fanciful building, but a building which represents the DNA of our culture and the DNA of our democracy.”
The office of Adjaye and Associates sent some officials to parliament on Friday to discuss the details of the building with the speaker and other leaders of parliament. The new structure will be located in front of the existing parliamentary chamber. It will have a 450 seat capacity for the Members of Parliament, which is almost twice the capacity of the current 275 seat parliamentary chamber that exists today. The speaker, however, was quick to note that the increase in number of seats does not mean there are plans to increase the number of MPs.
The new structure is set to have a number of features that will make the lives of parliamentarians less difficult. These include, a fully equipped library, a canteen, a prayer sections for all religions, and a media center. Sir Adjaye explained that,
“We have been given the direction to prepare to start sometime this year to be able to allow us to go on site… It can be completed in the next three years."
All these features will make Parliament of Ghana addresses more effective, and make it easy for various Parliament of Ghana committee to communicate with the public swiftly and diligently.
Support of the project
The project has received overwhelming support from all arms of the government, with the head of the executive vowing to cut the sod for the construction project to commence. Prof. Ocquaye said,
“the president has agreed in principle to come and cut the sod for the project.”
Both the majority and minority leaders, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, and Haruna Iddrisu respectively, hailed the project. Mr. Iddrisu said,
“We look forward to doing what we need to do internally to get this project going,”
While Mr. Mensah affirmed,
“I am impressed by what I have seen…, even now, there are more than 60 non-MP ministers and deputy ministers. On occasions, they are required to be in the chamber… So you provide adequate space. For now, when all MPs are in the chamber and ministers are there, many of them do not have anywhere to sit. Some necessarily have to stand.”
During the meeting, Sir Adjaye, the man working on the project said,
“It’s really a new wonderful way to show the incredible ark of history of the Ghanaian parliament and that will be visible for all to see. We are putting all the car parks that you see that are on surface parking under the parliament. So MPs can drive into a secured zone and rise up directly into the chamber.”
According to the new structure, the space under the new chamber block will be transformed to an arena that will be used during the swearing in of new presidents. In future, Ghanains will gather around this arena and witness the event from this location instead of the Black Star Square.
The speaker, who is very optimistic and has the good of Ghana in his heart said,
“We are being futuristic and making something that will stand the test of time,” Prof. Ocquaye said. “There will be a canteen, a hotel, eating places, private restaurants that people can rent and cook. Nobody should leave the parameters of this building in other to say I am going to eat and come. These are not scientific and not for this modern age of seriousness."
How large is Ghana economy? Well, it is large enough to see through the construction of this new parliament complex to its completion. When it is completed, the Parliament of Ghana location will be transformed into a national statement. Hopefully, this will have an impact on Parliament of Ghana bills. The building of parliament of Ghana today serves its role just fine. But the new complex will make every one using the building more comfortable and well equipped to serve Ghanaians.