Ghana’s Parliament has begun a campaign dubbed: ‘It’s our Parliament #Letstalkmore’ aimed at resurrecting the dropped controversial $200 million new parliamentary enclave.
Massive opposition to the project by Civil Society Organisations and Ghanaians compelled Parliament to announce a halt to the project on Monday 8 July.
The decision to shelve the project was made after a meeting of the Parliamentary Service Board considering the massive social media campaign and public uproar against the decision.
“Before projects are completed, feasibility studies are done but you would realise that this new chamber is not something that is workable for now,” the acting Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Kate Addo, told Accra-based Neat FM.
However, in a sudden twist of events, Parliament has launched ‘It’s our Parliament #Letstalkmore’ campaign to push for the construction of the new Parliamentary enclave, a day after the announced halt.
The Parliamentary Service Board had already received the architectural model for the new chamber from renowned Ghanaian architect David Frank Adjaye, the same designer of the National Cathedral.
The 450-seater chamber would come with a chapel, mosque, restaurant, and a museum. The current chamber houses 275 seats for MPs.
Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and pressure group OccupyGhana condemned the idea, describing it as a “misplaced priority.”
The CDD said Parliament as it stands now is “relatively well resourced.”
On Friday, three members of the Economic Fighters League were arrested for protesting against the new 450-seat chamber. The leader of the group and his accomplices were granted GHC2, 000 bail with one surety.
The League led by its leader Ernesto Yeboah was protesting in the public gallery during proceedings.
OccupyGhana, described the project “inconsiderate” looking at the level of hardship in the country.
“The very fact that in light of all the problems Ghana faces, our parliamentarians think a new chamber is of utmost importance shows a significant disconnection from a lot of the people they are supposed to represent.
“We cannot believe that Parliament and its leadership would even contemplate something so inconsiderate at a time when so many Ghanaians still struggle in these difficult and trying times. Even sadder is the fact that it eats away at the confidence people have in the democratic process,” the group said.
In a rare appearance on morning TV on Wednesday, July 3, the Majority leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu defended the need for the new chamber. According to him, the argument that the new chamber is not of priority is baseless.
“So, let’s not really say that not until we satisfied the basic human needs other things are luxurious. Let nobody tell me that not until maybe we are able to provide clothing for everybody, not until we are able to provide adequate housing to everybody these other things are luxuries,” he stated on GHOne TV’s GH Today.
Parliament’s latest campaign to resurrect the construction of the controversial new parliamentary enclave comes on the back of the suspension of a planned demonstration against the project on 13 July.
Organisers of the march, The 2 Million March, said in a statement the march had been halted because of Parliament’s decision to suspend the $200 million new Parliamentary enclave project.
“We welcome the suspension with caution and remain vigilant and steadfast in our commitment to demand accountability from our government and leaders. Should Parliament make any attempt to implement this project in the future, at a time citizens deem inappropriate, we shall once again, come together and make a stand against it.” the statement said.