Sunday 18 April 2021
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A tale of decay

…..National Assembly falling apart


The National Assembly, often cited as one of the most famous buildings in the country, is falling apart.
Behind the spectacular facade of Namibia’s legislature, roofs are leaking, ceilings are falling apart and plumbing systems are inadequate.
After putting off a decision to construct a new parliament for-mainly due to public opposition and cost implications-MPs are subjected to the dwindling infrastructure on offer.
Last week the ceiling at the entrance of the National Assembly fell down, fortunately this happened while the officials were off duty.
One of the officials working at parliament said the collapse of a part of the ceiling is a clear indication that there is need for the construction of a new parliament precinct.
“The current building poses great danger to employees and our leaders”

The temptation for parliamentarians is to have a new parliament building constructed. But they will have to navigate through the public storm that comes with pursuing such an investment-which could cost billions-at a time when thousands of Namibians are struggling make ends meet.
Every year of delay however increases the cost of building a new facility estimated currently at over N$2 billion. Every day that passes also makes a catastrophe more likely.
Much of the current Tintenpalast was built between 1912 and 1913. As a national icon, its renovation represents a complex and costly operation.
Katjavivi said the National Assembly secretariat informed the Ministry of Works and Transport about the incident and inspections are already underway to determine the cause and remedy the situation.
“It is a dangerous situation because any old building needs constant maintenance which is often costly…one never knows when the roof will come down,” said the speaker.
He also added that parliament might consider roping in the works ministry to conduct a lifespan audit on the building.

The speaker expressed concern over the safety of police officers who have to guard the building day and night.
“It is unfair to expect them to work under such conditions because their lives are placed under risk,” he said.
Katjavivi also proposed that all government agencies and offices should have a provision on their staff establishment making room for a handymen, adding that “this will cut the time we have to wait for works to.”
In 2016, hundreds of people took to the streets of Windhoek to demonstrate their disapproval of Government’s plans to spend over N$2 billion to construct a new parliament building.

People from all walks of life joined hands at the time to make their voices heard in a march, dubbed the ‘16 June movement’, with some accusing Government of forcing decisions onto the masses. Marchers wanted Government to spend the state money on schools, hospitals, houses and other basic amenities that will improve the lives of all Namibians.
Opposition parties in parliament have also critiqued the plan to build a new parliament, but Swapo’s two-thirds majority leaves the opposition in the wilderness.
The plan to build a new parliament could not be executed because of the dire financial position of the country.

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