The latest scandal to hit our nation is the revelation of the cost of seats for the refurbishment of Parliament building.
Kenyans watched in shock as it was revealed that the government was planning to spend a whopping 400,000 shilling for each new seat in parliament. This amount was later cut by half when the job was given to prisons. So now, prisons will undertake the project to make these seat at a cost of 200,000 shillings.
Kenyans are not taking this well. Far from it.
I guess the timing is all wrong. 2011 has been one of the hardest year for the common mwananchi. Just a few months ago, a large portion of the Kenyan population was facing starvation due to one the worst draughts to even hit this country.
The government stood aside and watched Kenyan come to the rescue of other Kenyans in one of the biggest campaigns dubbed “Kenyans for Kenya.” The government did not to help in this venture and the whole world stood in shock and awe as Kenyans took charge of the situation.
Not too long after, the Kenya shilling lost its value by the biggest margin ever. This has led to skyrocketing fuel and common commodity prices. The cost of living has gone up so high that one wonders how Kenyans survive. The life of the common Mwananchi has deteriorated in so many ways that many see no hope of survival. This is leading to crime and other social ills.
So one cannot blame Kenyans for reacting sharply to these revelations of frivolous spending by the same government.
The Refurbishment of the Kenya Parliament – The Inside Story
The problem with our media is sometimes sensationalizing everything without reporting all the facts.
The refurbishment of Parliament is a project that started way back in 2004 but it has faced a lot of challenges. Powerful political figures have many times sought to sabotage the project simply because it was not award to their friends and business partners.
The funds for this project have long since been allocated and these delays are only making the project more expensive as construction and other prices sky rocket all over the world.
So is the expenditure justified?
What we all are forgetting is the the Kenyan Parliament is not just any building.
This is the seat of government where the national assembly seats and makes crucial decisions concerning this nation.
Any parliament is usually a cultural icon for a nation and everything and I mean everything about this building is usually state of the art!
The Kenyan parliament is a national monument and heritage. This building is actually protected under The Museums and Heritage Act.
The building was actually put up in the 1960’s and it has not been upgraded ever since. That is exactly the point. Such an iconic structure is build to last 50-60 years without much of a touch, just everyday routine maintenance.
Now trust me you will not find seats that can last this long in Nakumatt or Tuskys.
The Refurbishment of the Kenya Parliament- What makes these Seats so Special?
I’m sure you must be asking yourself what would make one seat cost so much money. The truth is the features of this seat are well worth its cost and are befitting for a building that is the icon of a country.
- State of the Art Material
In case you are thinking that this seat is made from good materials, think again. This seat is made from the very best material there is in this side of existence. The leather, the wood and all other accessories are the best that money can buy. That’s the only way to make a seat that can last 60 years without changing or ageing.
The seats are made for fireproof material and there is a good reason for that. An arson attempt by frustrated Kenyans to finish all these money hungry parliamentarians is not a far fetched story.
Lets just say the risk of fire cannot be taken lightly and this seats are well protected from that.
- Stationary but Moveable
The picture of Councilors at City Hall comes to mind. Vividly at that. We have all watched these group of goons throw chairs and anything else they could lay their hands on during their heated meetings. Get the point??
These special seats have special levers that allow the seat to move in any direction but at the same time remain fixed on the ground. No more Ninja seat throwing moves allowed in the esteemed August House!
- Maintenance Free
Maintenance can, in many cases be more expensive that purchase of certain high cost items. These seats are created in such a way that they need very little maintenance. They came with extremely long warranty periods.
The special levers are not going to be jamming soon. The leather and the wood will remain as a good as new for the said 50-60 years.
These are just some of the features that warranty an expenditure of that nature.
The government in all its wisdom has not awarded the job of making these seats to Prisons. This will essentially cut down the cost of each seat to about 200,000 thousands.The total budget which was estimated to be about 130 million shillings will come down to about 70 million shillings.
Cut the government some slack for saving tax payers’ money and providing employment to prisoners undergoing rehabilitation.
The truth is the cost still seems high but this is only because all the components of the seat will be imported. Human labor is probably the only ‘local’ aspect of these prestigious seats.
The Rwandan and the Tanzanian Government have invested in the same seat for their parliaments and Kenya cannot be left behind.
If you overlook the behavior of our current parliamentarians and focus on the importance of this National Monuments, I’m sure you can understand why this kind of expenditure is necessary.