Speaker Kenneth Marende has asked MPs to show up for “training” sessions in Parliament to get the skills required to use modern equipment in the refurbished debating chambers July 31, 2012. FILE
By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU email@example.com
Posted Tuesday, July 31 2012 at 15:14
Speaker Kenneth Marende has asked MPs to show up for “training” sessions in Parliament to get the skills required to use modern equipment in the refurbished debating chambers.
Mr Marende made the call Tuesday in Parliament as he welcomed the lawmakers back to the House after a month-long recess.
The Speaker said the MPs should be done with the training as soon as possible because the refurbished building will be ready within the next ten days.
The official opening of the chamber, whose facelift cost the taxpayer Sh958 million, is expected next Tuesday. President Kibaki is scheduled to preside over the invite-only event.
Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central) asked the Speaker why MPs had to meet in the congested Old Chambers yet the works in the main debating chamber had already been concluded.
Mr Imanyara said the MPs had hoped to sit in the new chambers when Parliament re-opened and wondered what had become of the plan to move house.
“We’re awake to that anticipation (that we’d move to the refurbished chambers upon reopening). The new Chamber has been fully refurbished and equipped, and as a matter of fact all members have undergone training. Those who have not, should do so. We expect to be able to move into the new chamber, not more than ten days from today,” said Mr Marende.
The MPs will have to be trained on the use of smart cards to log in and out of the House. The cards will have pins and the MPs will activate the microphones next to their seats using these cards. The digital console where the card will be inserted has buttons for electronic voting, buttons to alert the Speaker that an MP is eager to contribute, and another button to alert the Speaker about a Point of Order (an interruption to signal a breach in procedure).
There will be no more competition to stand up to catch the Speaker’s eye as is the case now.
The MPs will vote through an electronic gadget that will be attached to their seats and the Speaker will control the whole process without leaving his seat; the Speaker will have a gadget to send “instant text messages to individual MPs”, plus he’ll have the power to decide which MP will speak, when, and which one ought to shut up, all these via a microphone switch on his console.
The MPs with disability have also been catered for. There’s a ramp to get them to the House and then there’ll be a large screen showing interpreters for the deaf.
At the desk, both light and sound alerts are available for MPs.
Mr Marende said the chamber will hold 350 MPs expected in the House in the next Parliament. Currently, there are 222 members of Parliament.
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