Speaker gives directives to reorganise seats over coronavirus

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has directed the Clerk to Parliament and the Leadership of Parliament to reorganise the seats in the chamber.

This will allow Members of Parliament (MPs) keep sufficient distance from one another in tandem with the World Health Organization (WHO) protocols.

Additionally, the Speaker also directed the relevant administration in Parliament to fumigate the chamber and other areas of the legislature before the House sat tomorrow.

The Speaker further tasked the leaders to consider creating spaces using the public gallery and other available areas in the House to prevent MPs from sitting too close to each other.

The measure was to ensure that MPs and staff of parliament are protected against the coronavirus pandemic.

Prof Oquaye further called on the Clerk and the Leadership of the House to work to ensure that at least there was one seat space interval in the sitting arrangements.

According the Speaker, the WHO guidelines for the sitting arrangements due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease were global directives which the House had to adhere to.

“This is a matter of vigil and it is for them to oblige accordingly together with the Medical Director,” he said.

Prof Oquaye also explained that Parliament unlike other organisations cannot stop working even in a state of emergency and that members must be around to approve the emergency orders that are brought before House.

“Even in a matter of the state of emergency, Parliament has to act on it. Be that no matter the emergencies that arise Parliament must be around to take steps under the constitution which are the magnet to direct this nation and relevant orders”.

The Speaker also tasked the Clerk, the relevant administration as well as the leadership to take in account all the matters that are peculiar to members’ circumstance to enable perform their duties.

“I trust that all this would be handled with expedition and we will begin to see results, even when we come tomorrow”.

Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip, suggested that MPs should be allowed to sit at different desks other than their own to improve spacing among members.

He bemoaned the ongoing registration by the National Identification Authority in parts of the country, saying they risked endangering the lives of Ghanaians.

“Mr Speaker, as we speak…the National Identification Authority is still registering people, and if you see the masses of the people in the queue and I doubt whether they are aware of the directive from the President”.

Mr Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader, disclosed that the leadership is exploring moving sitting to the Accra International Conference Center to improve upon conditions in the chamber.

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