Kenyan MPs move into Sh950m chamber
Members of parliament on Tuesday moved to the 920 million shillings ultra modern refurbished parliamentary chambers which were officially opened by President Mwai Kibaki.
The new chamber has a sitting capacity of 350, 200 seats more than the old chambers. Modern communication facilities have been installed in the new chambers and Mps will now adopt an electronic voting system.
Computer monitors have been installed on each of the seats and Mps will also use electronic buzzers to catch the speaker’s attention during debates.
The system will also provide digital order papers and hansard. Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende said that the introduction of Information Communication Technology in parliament will ensure efficiency and reduce paperwork in the house.
He said electronic voting would let MPs vote according to their conscience rather than be forced to vote in a certain way by party whips.
"Now the member will be completely on his own, he will be independent, he will make up his mind and just press a button" said the Speaker
House Broadcasting Committee chairman Nicholas Gumbo challenged Mps to improve their ICT skills to enable them use the facilities with ease.
The refurbishment had been dogged by criticism over the cost of chairs for MPs. Costing about sh 200,000 each, the 350 red chairs were made by the country’s prisons department.
David Langat, who looks after industrial activities within Kenyan prisons, said all the materials were sourced locally but the chair moulds were expensive.
He told the BBC the chairs, which weigh more than 50kg each, were fireproof and came with a 30-year guarantee.