The Parliamentary Commission is seeking approval from the Solicitor General to alter the contract of the new chambers of parliament to add a floor for a museum and 100 more seats for legislators. The Commission forwarded its request to the Solicitor General after being approved by the Contracts Committee chaired by the Director Library Services, Innocent Rugambwa.
The committee agreed to amend the contract to include an additional floor to accommodate a museum and increase the sitting capacity of the chambers from 500 to 600 seats. The additional works will cost Shillings 26 billion inclusive of VAT.
This brings the overall cost of the project to Shillings 206 billion from the initial Shillings 179.8 billion. This presents a 14.57 percent increase in the project cost. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Regulations, 2014 provide that “a single contract amendment shall not increase the total contract price by more than 15 percent of the original contract price.”
The regulations also provide that a contract amendment should only be issued to a provider with commitment of the fulfillment of funding of the amended contract price over the required period of the revised contract with approval from the contracts committee and other concerned bodies including the Attorney General.
According to sources involved in the project, by the time construction was halted around June this year due to discussions by the Contracts Committee and Parliamentary Commission on the alterations of the contract price, the project had achieved progress of 30 percent.
Since the project had reached the mezzanine floor, which is expected to accommodate the museum, it had to stop pending approval of the contract amendment. Mezzanine usually refers to the floor above the ground floor, especially where a very high original ground floor has been split horizontally into two floors.
The idea to include a museum was mooted by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga after touring the construction site on August 31, 2018, accompanied by the Leader of the Opposition, Betty Aol Ocan, First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali and Parliamentary Commissioners.
Kadaga asked Roko Construction Company to include a museum on the design of the new structure because it is an integral part of Parliament’s history and would tell a story to future generations. “We have visited parliaments where the history is recorded all the way from the 1800’s,” Kadaga is quoted to have said on the parliamentary website.
Adding that, “We will have to discuss how that history can be incorporated; it should not just be about Speakers and Presidents”. She also noted the need to increase the number of seats for MPs in the new chambers, arguing that when the new project was conceived in 2005, the planners thought that parliament would have 500 legislators in another 20 years.
However, by the time of groundbreaking for the project in 2017, there were already over 400 MPs. Kadaga asked Roko to create more space for MPS. Her request has resulted in increasing the sitting capacity from 500 to 600 seats.
The Director Communications and Public Affairs, Chris Obore told Uganda Radio Network early last week that the Parliamentary Commission decided to make the changes to the project to serve future purposes.
He said Roko Construction is waiting for the relevant departments in Parliament and other government bodies including the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry to approve the changes as stipulated in the Public procurement Regulations.
Though Roko Construction Company hadn’t responded to questions about the implications of the stalled works on its completion target of 2020, Obore explained that the company has faced delays due to the approval process for the changes.
Despite the stalled works resulting from the contract changes, sources involved in the project are optimistic that Roko Construction will meet the three year completion target. The new chamber is supposed to be completed by 2020. The current chamber was constructed in 1956, with a sitting capacity of 82 members of Parliament.