A number of new legislators of the 11th Parliament are operating in corridors as they wait to be allocated offices, nearly a month after they were sworn in.
For this reason, the legislators only turn up when they are sure of attending plenary sessions or if they have other tasks to take care of at Parliament.
However, those that go to Parliament and are not certain of the day’s proceedings, keep in the canteen, committee halls, library and members’ lounge.
Some of the legislators we talked to on the matter revealed that this has complicated their work.
“Right now I do not have an office and it is difficult to work because I need to settle and there is a lot to learn through discussions,” Ms Hellen Auma Wandera, the woman MP for Busia District, said.
Ms Brenda Namukuta, the Kaliro District Woman MP, says the Parliament administration asked them to wait for premises to be refurbished before they can be allocated space.
“The latest is that they have to finish the vetting process [of the ministers] and after that they will allocate offices to committee chairpersons, commissioners and then other MPs will come later,” Ms Brenda said.
While the new legislators are waiting to be allocated offices, the incumbents have insisted on operating in their previously held offices pending final communication on the matter.
Mr Gerald Ibanda Rwemulikya, the Ntoroko County MP, said they were previously forced to share offices due to high numbers.
“When I joined Parliament in the other kisanja (term), we did not have enough space. We were sharing. I, Hon Esther Anyakun [Nakapipiriti District Woman MP] and Ms Norah Bigirwa [Buliisa District Woman MP] were all in one office,” Mr Ibanda said.
He added: “But when the Queens Chambers was secured, some were moved and I remained alone for a while until Hon [Judith] Nabakooba was asked to share with me the office. She opted to work from a different office. So that is how I got an opportunity to work alone.”
Allocation of offices to MPs is done by the Sergeant at Arms who works directly with the Opposition and Government chief whips.
“As the whip of Opposition, I am actually grappling with a challenge of how to allocate the offices,” Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the Opposition Chief Whip and Manjiya County MP, told the Daily Monitor.
He added: “As of now, on the opposition side, I am giving priority to the women MPs. Men ought to understand that we can hang around in the whip’s office or in the library until we attend plenary or committee.”
Early this month, the director of communications and public affairs at Parliament, Mr Chris Obore, revealed that a total of 9,030 square metres within Kingdom Kampala building is to be rented at Shs9.8 billion annually.
However, Mr Nambeshe said it is still far from completion and may take at least two months before the crisis is resolved.
Oulanyah yet to enter office
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, is yet to enter his office because it is still undergoing refurbishment, Daily Monitor has learnt.
“The Speaker’s office is undergoing refurbishment which includes change of carpet, fresh painting, among others. This is expected to be concluded this weekend,” a source, who is not authorised to speak about the matter, said.
Our attempts to reach the director of communications and public affairs at Parliament, Mr Chris Obore, on the matter were futile as his known contact could not be reached by press time.
Sources at Parliament privy to the proceedings revealed that Mr Oulanyah has engaged various stakeholders on the matter including the President that construction of the new chambers can be expedited because the idea of renting is not sustainable.