Members of Parliament have been informed they are tenants at the present location of the legislature because the property does not belong to the Parliament of Ghana.
The Chamber Block, the Speaker’s Block and the Job 600 are the only properties in the precinct that have been allocated to the legislature for use.
The present Chamber Block was meant to be a temporary shelter for the Parliament of the Fourth Republic until a proper place has been located and constructed.
Speaker Alban S.K. Bagbin who disclosed this noted Parliament has therefore been operating under a tenancy at the present precinct for the past 30 years.
The Speaker offered this explanation after MP for Adansi Asokwa, Hon. K.T. Hammond complained the precinct of Parliament is being turned into a funeral ground even for people who are not known to the state and Parliament.
The situation, he said, poses a serious threat to members as Parliament’s security is not able to determine the people who will enter the compound and to also monitor the movement of these strangers.
He said, “I thought the open ground has been allotted for state functions or state funerals but what I see is that it’s now like a public funeral ground. I see funerals being held and I make inquiries and I don’t know who the person is.”
“I am trying to find out from the system whether the place belongs to the state. Is there a protocol arrangement for funerals that are held there? I need to understand Mr. Speaker,” he said.
Speaker Bagbin explained the Chamber Block was re-configured from the initial International Conference Center and therefore to even use the Banquet Hall, Parliament has to make an application and sometimes pay for its use.
This, he said, is the pretence of democratic practice in Ghana where the relevance of Parliament is seen but nobody recognizes its importance in the building of democratic culture in the country.
“It will take time for us to change because here the only thing they know is president and that’s all and so we need to fight.”
According to the Speaker, various leaders have made efforts to get the permission of the executive to take possession of the whole precinct but no president has finally ‘bitten the bullet’ and taken that decision to put pen to paper.
Mr. Bagbin urged Parliamentarians to therefore take his comments on security serious because criminals easily jump the walls to escape into the Osu Cemetary area or the slum behind Job 600.
He disclosed a staff was once stabbed by a stranger but jumped the walls and made his escape when the police chased him.
“So it is a serious matter but the people of Ghana don’t know this. We have to shout and let them know.”
“It took us a long time to change it from State House to Parliament House. This place is State House and is under the President and usually put under the care of the Chief of Staff,” he added.