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MPs move into plush offices in Bunge Towers

Politics
 Bunge Towers MP's offices block. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

After more than a decade of construction, Members of Parliament will start moving into the multi-billion shilling Bunge Towers today, situated directly across from Parliament buildings.

In a statement, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula announced that the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) has confirmed that members’ offices will be ready for occupancy by the end of this week.

“The PSC is expediting the completion of Bunge Towers to bridge the deficit in office accommodation for members,” said Wetang’ula.

Although the 28-story building is complete, Wetang’ula stated that its occupation will occur in two phases. This approach adheres to the Schedule of Allocation prepared by the Clerk of the National Assembly, ensuring a seamless transition.

According to the statement, phase one, starting today, will see members relocating from the Kenyatta International Convention Centre to the tower or to alternative accommodations. Phase two, set to begin on July 1, will involve MPs from Continental House moving into the tower.

Limited occupancy

The Speaker emphasized that the occupancy of the new building will be limited to those who have been allocated offices.

The 125-meter-high complex includes four parking levels, a reception area, 24 committee rooms, 338 offices for MPs, a health club, a restaurant, an open garden, and a service floor. Additionally, it will provide committee rooms for members to conduct their business.

The project that began in 2014 was initially scheduled for completion by January last year, but the deadline was extended to August 23. These delays drew the attention of the Auditor-General’s office, which highlighted the challenges in several reports.

In her report for the 2019/2020 financial year, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu noted the slow pace of construction despite money being poured into the project.

Breaking the law

The report further faulted the PSC for breaking the law in 2018 by varying the contract sum by Sh1.5 billion, which was a 27 per cent variation hence above the 25 per cent limit allowed by Section 139(4) of Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.

The original cost of the office block was Sh5.5 billion but by the time of writing the report, this had increased to Sh7 billion.

The Auditor General further noted that PSC did not have title deeds for land on which it has prime properties, including Parliament buildings.

The plot on which Bunge Tower stands was allocated to Parliament by the government in 2000 after MPs complained that they were working from their cars and hotels due to lack of office space.

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