The Senate wants to take over the entire Kenyatta International Conference Centre awaiting renovation of Parliament’s old Chamber

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi [Photo: file]

By Jacob Ng’etich

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Senate wants to take over the entire Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi, until the ongoing renovation of Parliament’s Old Chamber is completed.

In a letter to the Government by the Clerk of the Senate Jeremiah Nyengenye that The Standard on Sunday has seen, the Senators appreciated the seven floors they had been allocated but said they are not enough.

The clerk asked that they occupy the 28-floor building that the Government repossessed from Kanu in 2003 after Narc came into power.

The Senators have been holding their sittings in the VIP room at KICC as repairs continue at the Old Chambers. The 68-member Senate, comprising 47 elected senators, 16 women nominees, two persons with disabilities and two youth representatives are waiting for the Sh700 million repairs to be completed.

Major repairs

 The repair work includes refurbishing of the old chamber, building of Senate offices, a restaurant and an underground car park near President Kenyatta’s mausoleum.

According to a senator who sought anonymity, her colleagues had expressed displeasure with the small offices they were operating from and asked for more space to accommodate them and their secretaries.

“At the moment, two senators share a secretary probably because of space constraints. May be that is the reason they have asked for the space,” said the senator.

Senators have previously expressed displeasure with the facilities made available to them and had pleaded with Speaker Ekwe Ethuro to accord them facilities that befit their status.

However, the Senate Clerk yesterday said the latter had been overtaken by the current instruction to request the government for adequate space rather than asking for the entire building.

“We noted that it would easily be misconstrued to mean we want the house and not the space. We are asking for enough space for our senators and the staff who are currently crammed into smaller offices,” said Nyengenye.

The clerk said there was a serious crisis with six senators who were supposed to have an office each sharing room 105.

“We also have 13 committees which sometimes have to hold meetings simultaneously, hence the need to have enough rooms for such meetings,” he said.

Planned meeting

He said the government had responded to the letter and he and the Speaker would be having a meeting with the Cabinet office to discuss the issue.

“We got response from the government and they invited us for a meeting so that we can iron out the space problem,” said Nyengenye.

The Clerk clarified that what they had asked for was offices within the tower and particularly those held by the government, some of which were no longer in use after the ministries were merged.

 “In the Appendix, we only asked for government offices in the building. The request did not include the conference venue,” he said.  He said the request for the offices had also factored in about 150 MPs who currently do not have offices in Continental House.

More floors

“We have evaluated and we might require about 16 floors or so for Senate, without factoring the members of the National Assembly whom we had included in our request for the entire building.

We are looking at the senators and 200 members of staff,” said Nyengenye.

According to Stephen Kirogo, the PS for Principal Administrative Secretary Francis Kimemia, the meeting between him and the Senate Clerk is slated for tomorrow morning to work out the issue.

“We have been instructed to assist the Senate settle down so that they can perform their duties comfortably. We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow together with the management of KICC, the ministry of Housing and any other stakeholders who might be affected,” said Kirogo.

Kirogo said the Government would assess and evaluate the need by Senate before they act.