The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Joseph Whittal, has said the whole structure of the Old Parliament House has not been pulled down, thus the allusions by Ghanaians to CHRAJ destroying the facility are misplaced.
He said as an occupant of the Old Parliament House, CHRAJ had an interest in maintaining the facility and keeping it intact for all.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra last Thursday, the commissioner said: “only the burnt part of the structure, that was unsalvageable after the 2013 December fire, is being cleared to make way for a new block.”
In December 2013, fire engulfed the Old Parliament House and burnt the Chamber of the Old Parliament House, with some adjoining offices.
Mr Whittal said after the fire, CHRAJ wrote to the Chief of Staff then, who directed the 48 Engineers Regiment to help with salvaging some portions of the building.
The Regiment was able to restore the library, the store, some adjoining walkways and roofing the library as part of the process.
Subsequently, the commission engaged the government institution, the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL), for an assessment of the damage and what could be done.
He said based on their assessments, the area that the fire had gutted was deemed unsalvageable and needed reconstruction.
“At every step, we have depended solely on the advice and expert opinion of the AESL,” Mr Whittal told the Daily Graphic.
Mr Whittal said based further on their advice, CHRAJ wrote to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in June for a permit to clear the section that was unsalvageable.
“We were asked to produce the ownership documents of the place to assist the spatial unit of the AMA to make a determination,” he said.
Mr Whittal said his response was that CHRAJ, as a constitutional body occupying the building since 1993, was sufficient for the AMA to see to their request, as those documents were not in their possession.
CHRAJ did not get any response from the authority, and to ensure that they did not miss the timing stipulated by the Ministry of Finance for presenting certificates for accessing funds, they decided to commence, while awaiting the AMA’s decision.
Mr Whital said CHRAJ had a great interest in the facility as their offices so the whole building had currently been repainted.
They had also started re-wiring the building to prevent any future fires.
“We are doing this to ensure the facility remains a national asset and maintains its history,” he said.
He gave an assurance that the rest of the building was in good shape.