A group of Kericho Members of County Assembly (MCAs) huddles under a tree outside the chambers.
From a distance, the MCAs seem to be just whiling their time away under the shade as they wait to enter the Assembly’s chambers to conduct official business.
However, the MCAs are not idle; they are holding a committee meeting at the spot and have to struggle to keep their documents from being blown away by the wind.
The Assembly, which occupies structures inherited from the defunct Kipsigis County Council, only has two boardrooms against over 28 committees.
“The purpose of the Assembly is to improve service delivery for the people. That cannot be done effectively when MCAs are forced to sit under a tree,” Collins Biegon, the Kapkugerwet MCA, wrote in a social media post.
The Assembly’s ancient buildings were put up by the British colonial government under the Nyanza District Council in the early 1920s to serve as offices for the European chair of the council and a handful colonial staff.
In 1963, the defunct Kipsigis County Council took over the buildings the council constructed an extension to increase the number of offices.
“Upon the inception of the new devolved system of government in 2013, the County Assembly of Kericho inherited the buildings of the defunct County Council of Kipsigis, which were in a poor state of repair,” Dominic Rono, Speaker of the County Assembly, says.
He says the roof had begun to leak and ceiling had caved in. The paint on the walls was peeling off and office furniture and other items were in a poor condition. “This prompted the Assembly leadership to take a drastic move of refurbishing the building to make it possible for the first Assembly to begin its sittings. Re-roofing, repainting and floor renovations were done to the chambers and offices and in 2014,” says Rono. But despite these renovations, Rono says the space still doesn’t provide a conducive environment.
The Speaker says MCAs do not have offices at the Assembly. “Whenever MCAs receive guests from the wards, they attend to them while standing at the gate,” said Rono.
Though the County Assembly Standing Orders provide that the Assembly proceedings are open to members of the public and accredited media, the gallery can hold a maximum capacity of only 30 people.
The chamber also lacks a media gallery and journalists have to jostle for the small space to broadcast Assembly proceedings, especially during special occasions such as budget-reading day.
In October 2016, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission issued a circular proposing infrastructural development in counties.
The ceiling was set at Sh500 million towards construction of new assembly chambers and office block.
“In line with that circular, the Budget and Appropriation Committee set aside Sh50 million in the current financial year of 2018/2019 to kick-start the construction, mindful of the limited resources and competing development priorities,” said Rono.
The structural design of the new building provides for adequate boardrooms as well as offices for the MCAs. It also has a media gallery.
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