MPs to wine, dine like kings as cafe takes a 5-star touch

A worker clears debris after renovation of MPs’ bar at Parliament yesterday /JACK OWUOR
A worker clears debris after renovation of MPs’ bar at Parliament yesterday /JACK OWUOR

When MPs resume sittings this afternoon, they will enjoy five-star catering services.

In the evening, after a ‘hard-day’s’ work, those who partake of wine, whisky or beer, will be served at a newly refurbished bar.

As of last evening, carpenters were racing against time to put final touches to the expanded bar. Its ambiance is par excellence.

The gypsum ceiling, star-studded with decorative lights, the chandeliers and the comfortable seats at the MPs’ lounge complete the new dining area. The MPs resume sittings after a long Christmas recess.

The old bar was small and could hardly accommodate more than 10 MPs. It had a semi-circular table by the corner that also served as a counter. Next to it were “sina taabu” chairs made of mahogany.

Before the recess, they had complained about poor catering services and urged the Parliamentary Service Commission to outsource from five-star hotels and restaurants with continental and traditional cuisines. They said there were no Kenyan traditional foods on the menu. The poor infrastructure and hospitality facilities were not worthy of their stature, the members said.

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Majority leader Aden Duale kicked off the storm when he accused the Committee on Members’ Services and Facilities of benchmarking in other parliaments but failing to implement what they learnt to change the services and welfare of members.

“The services we receive in our restaurant since 2007, when I became a member of Parliament, have never changed. The mandazis are still the same. The tea is still the same. The tea was Sh80. The chairs are the same. They have not even changed the colour and the gadgets,” the Garissa Township MP told the House last November.

“So, we need to discuss these reports and study tours. The committee is doing very good study tours. These tours should translate into better services. The only thing I have seen changed in the 10th Parliament is that the price of tea was Sh80 and it is now Sh100. The quality has not changed.”

Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Ombaki, who chairs the committee, promised that he would push the PSC chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi to work on the changes to make the lives of MPs comfortable.

“My committee is as concerned as the other members. I’ve called the chairman and other members of the commission and I’ll be reporting to you very soon on the discussions we’ve had on the progress achieved so far,” he said.

Last year, the Ombaki team recommended that the PSC hire chefs with professional qualifications similar to those in five-star hotels.

Besides, the committee also urged the commission to employ a public health specialist to advise on food safety, hygiene and general cleanliness in the catering unit and other areas in Parliament.

They had recommended that the catering unit be decentralised to every building that houses MPs — main Parliament Buildings, Continental House, County House, KICC and the Red Cross Building. They demanded that one restaurant be reserved for MPs only.

“Consider facilitating a van well built with food regulation gadgets to be used for ferrying snacks, food and tea to committee rooms and Parliament Building.”