MORE MEMBERS TO SIT

Muturi relaxes House Covid-19 restrictions

Catering facility also re-opened but will be used exclusively by sitting MPs

In Summary

• Some 112 members will sit in the chamber on Thursday morning, almost double the current 60, Speaker Justin Muturi said.

• To avert further disruptions, the management contemplates procuring a system for supporting virtual House and committee meetings.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
REVIEW BY HEALTH MINISTRY: National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Image: FILE

The National Assembly has relaxed its Covid-19 containment measures to allow more members into the chamber following a review by the Health ministry.

Some 112 members will sit in the chamber on Thursday morning, almost double the current capacity of 60, Speaker Justin Muturi said.

The number excludes the Speaker, Clerk and four key officers who facilitate House sittings.

Committee rooms at Continental House will accommodate 15 people instead of the nine prescribed during the partial lockdown.

The catering facility has also been re-opened but will be used exclusively by sitting MPs.

“I firmly reiterate that the facility is out of bounds to all visitors and direct that the Chief Sergeant-at-Arms strictly enforces this measure,” Muturi said.

The directive is a setback to many lawmakers who use the facility to host visitors.

“I also wish to restate that no visitors shall be admitted to the precincts of Parliament, except in exceptional circumstances permitted by the Speaker,” Muturi said.

Only persons appearing before committees will be exempted from the directive.

The Public Accounts, Public Investments, Special Funds Accounts and the Transport committees have active matters before them.

At least 15 persons will be accommodated in the Chapel while the Muslim’s prayers room will hold a maximum of nine people.

Six will be accommodated on the males' section and three on the females’ side.

The capacity of the mini chamber and committee rooms 9 and 7 remains as advised in March. Committee Room 12 will be out of use.

The mini chamber was to accommodate 34 members while the rest of the committee rooms were to sit nine.

“Even as we increase the capacity in various spaces within the precincts of Parliament, I encourage members not to drop the guard with regard to observing Covid-19 prevention protocols,” the Speaker said.

“Every one of us is duty-bound to take necessary measures towards flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections so as to hasten return to normalcy." 

The National Assembly has been under partial lockdown since the virus outbreak in March, prompting the two Houses to embrace hybrid sittings.

To avert further disruptions, the management contemplates procuring an internal (communication) system for supporting virtual House and committee meetings.

The system, whose procurement is still being discussed, will be acquired if the Covid-19 situation persists.  

The House leadership reasons that this will enable continuity of business amid the constraints posed by the virus.

If successfully installed, lawmakers will use dedicated gadgets instead of mobile phones prone to interruptions.  

“The devices should be programmed and dedicated exclusively for parliamentary work,” House leaders resolved in a recent meeting. 

Edited by R.Wamochie