…No offices at Job 600, operate from car boots
At least, 23 Members of Parliament (MPs) on the majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) side of Parliament have become stranded, as they cannot not get offices at the ‘Job 600’ complex to operate from “Job 600,” The Republic can confirm.
The post-independence structure, which is just behind the Parliament House, was constructed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, in 1965.
It was constructed to serve as the venue for the 1965 meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) at an estimated cost of more than £4 million.
The multi-purpose office complex building, which was later left to deteriorate for years after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, due to Ghana’s poor maintenance culture, was renovated with sponsorship from Fidelity, Cal and Standard Chartered banks.
The renovation on the ‘Job 600’ started in 1996 when former President Jerry John Rawlings was in office and was continued by former President John Agyekum Kufuor and the late President John Evans Atta Mills, but was eventually completed by former President John Dramani Mahama.
The 13-floor edifice, with 252 offices, was officially commissioned for use by Members of Parliament and other officials of the parliamentary service in November, last year.
While inaugurating the “Job 600,” then sitting President, John Mahama, noted that Parliament is a very critical arm of government which also serves as the oversight for the executive and that if MPs are not made effective by giving them the proper tools to work with, they could even pass bad laws that would eventually bring financial loss to the state.
At the inaugural programme, Mr. Mahama recounted his experience as a former MP for Bole in the Northern Region from 1996 to 2008 where parliamentarians were holding committee meetings in the corridors of the Chamber of Parliament and the inconvenience it caused them and other staff of the House.
Until the official commissioning of the building for use, parliamentarians were conducting public business from the boots of their cars.
Apart from the situation posing insecurity at the time to MPs, it was also creating inconvenience whenever there was a downpour.
The ‘Job 600’ also has a 300-seater auditorium, gym centre, bank services, clinic, church, mosque, restaurant, MPs’ dining room and ICT centre.
The 275 Members of Parliament had moved into their offices since last year, after it was officially inaugurated, thereby reducing the risk of attending constituents and others in their car booths.
However, The Republic intercepted information that 23 MPs of the majority side in the current parliament have no office accommodation and are therefore still operating in their vehicles.
Though the names of these affected 23 MPs were not fully mentioned, a source at the refurbished ‘Job 600’ office complex indicated that, the MP for Tempane and Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Hon. Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, is one of them.
“This is unfortunate, an MP and a Deputy Minister for that matter does not have an office to work. I think government should take action on these affected MPs, especially Hon.Joe Kpemka, as he complains all the time and I feel very sorry as a nation,” a concerned observer that spoke to The Republic briefly said, under condition of anonymity.
An effort to get some of the affected MPs to speak on their office accommodation issue proved futile.
A visit to Attorney General’s Office to speak to Hon. Kpemka on the matter also failed, as this reporter was told several times he was not in office.
This therefore suggested that, the Tempane MP has no office to work and obviously has been stranded as it would be impossible to receive visiting constituents in car boot.
The affected MPs are said to be frustrated about the situation, having had to work in their car boots, while their colleagues comfortably operate in well furnished offices.
When the Acting Director of Public Affairs of the Parliament of Ghana, Ms Kate Addo, was contacted, she could not confirm or deny, but said, per the number of offices available, it is presumable that every MP should have an office.
Nevertheless, Ms Addo said, the Speaker, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, has on several occasions stated that there was the need for more office accommodation and a new Chamber to be built as the number may increase in the near future.
The plight of the 23 stranded MPs, however, compelled a colleague MP on the minority side, Hon. Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, MP for South Dayi, in the Volta Region, to place an urgent question for the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, to answer on the floor of parliament this week.
In the Business Statement for the fourth week ending this Friday, 23rd June, a portion reads, “Mr. Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwame Dafeamekpor (South Dayi), to ask the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs when offices shall be provided for the 23 other Members of Parliament who are without offices.”
Out of the 275 MPs of Ghana’s Parliament, the New Patriotic Party has 169 seats, making it the majority, while the National Democratic Congress has 106 seats, making it the minority in the House.
Meanwhile, the House will this week receive 10 questions from Members of Parliament and some statements on national issues.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba