The Ministry of Works and Transport has okayed legislators’ occupancy of Queen Chambers, a building owned by city businessman Sudhir Ruparelia.
This is carried in letter dated 26th August 2016 addressed to the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige.
In the letter, Alex Okello, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works says that the building that is located on Parliament Avenue is structurally safe for occupation.
The development follows a parliament letter to the works ministry seeking technical advice on the state of occupancy of the building.
Queen Chambers is among the three buildings that were recently shortlisted by Parliament to provide office space for Members of Parliament and staff. It previously housed the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
In July, a four-man team from parliament appointed to review bids for acquisition of office space raised red lights after an inspection exercise of the buildings. The team led by the Sergeant at Arms, Ahmed Kagoye, inspected Queen Chambers and found that the toilets were stained and the drainage system was poor.
Meera Investments Limited, the managers of the building had, as part of their bid documents, attached a letter from the Ministry of Works, clearing it for occupancy. However, the inspection team questioned the clearance on grounds that it could not be occupied in its present state.
The inspection team also questioned how the same building was cleared for occupancy yet one of the reasons it was vacated by the Ministry of Justice last year was reportedly due to its visible cracks.
Parliament was later informed by the works ministry that the letter attached to the Meera Investments bid had been issued in error by a new technical team within the ministry. This prompted another assessment of the building by a team from the ministry of works last month.
Now in his letter to parliament, PS Okello says that an inspection was carried out on 18th August 2016 which revealed that the defects pointed out during the structural integrity assessment had been rectified.
Okello says that there was no sign of reoccurrence of any of the defects at the time of inspection.
He also refers to a permit of occupation dated 18th March 2016 issued by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to Meera Investments Ltd and the proprietor of Queen Chambers signifying that the premises are in a habitable state and can be occupied.
However, Okello recommends that arrangements should be made for routine and periodic maintenance of the building; particularly the electro-mechanical installations and external drainage which he said are the main aspects of concern.
Works ministry’s technical team is also to conduct quarterly inspections on the building to review the performance of the remedial works over a period of twelve months.
It is also recommended that the new occupant of the building should notify the ministry of gender in accordance with Section 40, Sub-section 2 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2016 and Schedule 3 thereof so that the premises can be registered as a work place.
Sources now indicate that with this approval from the works ministry, Queen Chambers now awaits being awarded the contract due to its proximity to the Parliament building.
The other bid submitted by Yampe Limited is said to be too costly while the third bidder with a new building on Lumumba Avenue is far from Parliament.
The Parliamentary Commission invited bids for the provision of office space for Members of Parliament in June as it moves to end the office crisis at the main parliament building. A number of MPs in the tenth parliament currently share offices due to the crisis.
Parliament allocated 2.3 billion shillings in its budget to renting office space of legislators.
In the bids, the commission stated that the buildings should be in close proximity to parliament building and not more than 400metres from parliament House.
Other requirements set by the Commission are provision of well ventilated, tiled floor and newly painted walls, paved or tarmac parking space, premises adequately secured and well lit, standby power, well-functioning sanitary facilities and others.
The others include access facilities for persons with disabilities, adequate space for reception area and a visitor’s parlour, among others.