Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 0940 EAT on Friday 7th July 2022.
The speaker of parliament Anita Among has tasked the attorney general to expeditiously process the acquisition of offices for MPs under one roof, because the legislators are ‘scattered’ in different buildings and parliament is spending colossal sums of money on rent.
Among told MPs that the parliamentary commission held a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni in which they resolved to have a ‘one-stop centre’ to accommodate offices of for all legislators.
“Me, and the chair of the commission, we had a meeting with the president and the meeting resolved that we should have a ‘one-stop centre’ where all members of parliament should be accommodated as the office of MPs. Now, the only issue that we need is to get clearance as to whether that should happen…attorney general therefore we need clearance from your office on this matter. It is a very serious matter, members are scattered everywhere in town. We even do not know where MP are,” she said.
Among was responding to the parliamentary commissioner, Solomon Silwany who’d raised a procedural matter regarding offices for MPs, saying that one year after the swearing-in, there are still legislators who do not have offices.
“I raise this on the floor of parliament because we have discussed it several times, and it is not working and it is parliament where it can be solved. Parliament is renting for MPs in several places…We’re renting at Queen’s Chambers, we’re renting at Kampala Kingdom, we’re renting Development House and every day you find honourable members of parliament crossing the road, walking here and there and yet the president of this country guided us that we should start a process, Rt. Hon. speaker of getting our own premises and we save the rent. Honourable members, I want to inform you that Kingdom Kampala alone, we’re spending Shs 8 billion. Renting Queen’s Chambers, we’re spending about Shs 3.9 billion – all this money is going on rented premises yet the president guided us,” said the Bukooli Central MP.
Kingdom Kampala is located along Nile Avenue and is about 400 meters from the Parliamentary building while Queen’s Chambers is located at Parliamentary Avenue. Jackson Kafuuzi, the deputy attorney general says that as soon as his chambers get a request from the clerk to parliament office, they shall work on it.
In May last year, URN reported a decision by parliament to rent space at Kingdom Kampala building for Shs 18 billion to accommodate some MPs for two years as they wait for the completion of the new chambers. It was then reported that 323 of the 529 MPs in the 11th parliament would be housed in one of the wings of the Kingdom Kampala building. The remaining 206 MPs would remain in the Parliamentary main building, Queens’s Chambers and Development House.
The main building mainly houses committee chairpersons, their vice, the office of the speaker and deputy, and the 20 departments of parliament. About 100 MPs are housed at the main Parliament building.
Former assistant director of communications and public affairs, Helen Kawesa, then said that parliament was to spend Shs 800 million on rent monthly, renting space at Kingdom Kampala building. The figure translates to Shs 9 billion per year and Shs 18 billion for two years, which was the projected time frame for the completion of the new parliamentary chambers.
The Shs 206 billion chambers being constructed by ROKO was expected to host 600 MPs. The building was meant to be completed in early 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic affected the construction works.
In its budget for FY 2021/2022, parliament approved Shs 13 billion for rent. This meant that Shs 9 billion would be used for that financial year for office space at the Kingdom Kampala building, while the remaining Shs 4 billion can be used to pay rent for other premises.