What you need to know:
- The tunnel was one of the measures undertaken by Parliament to reduce traffic in the area.
- A traffic study was undertaken on the roads around Parliament.
The construction of a Sh110 million tunnel to protect MPs from intrusive constituents begins this week.
The tunnel, which is expected to be complete by May, will link Parliament with County Hall and the MPs’ Sh5.8 billion office block across the road.
Parliamentary Service Commission secretary Jeremiah Nyegenye said the tunnel was one of the measures undertaken by Parliament to reduce traffic in the area when the 27-storey office block is built.
“The tunnel is mainly meant for access of vehicles to the basement parking in the building under construction,” said Mr Nyegenye.
“The building, when completed, will provide parking for 400 vehicles.”
MPs have on several occasions complained to parliamentary leadership of being accosted by their supporters and strangers outside Parliament for financial and other assistance.
The Nairobi City County government has already notified the public about the expected disruption of traffic on Harambee Avenue during the construction. Motorists and pedestrians have been told to use alternative routes.
According to a press advertisement by the county government, construction works should have begun, since the section of Harambee Avenue between Parliament Road roundabout and Uhuru Highway junction was to have been blocked by November 6.
This means Kenyans with the habit of camping at the entry of Parliament in the hope of bumping into their MP for assistance will have to devise other ways.
All the requirements have been finalised and it is matter of time before the laying of the foundation stone is done, effectively cushioning the MPs from intrusions such as traffic snarl-ups right at the gate of Parliament.
“Whenever vehicles cross at the same level, like on roundabouts, serious congestion is witnessed,” said Mr Nyegenye.
The study done on the project recommended that vehicles enter the main Parliament through the entrance opposite County Hall and then enter the tunnel near the staff canteen and cross Harambee Avenue underground to the first basement.
The vehicles will then exit the basement parking on the southern end of the building, which is the side that overlooks Haile Selassie Avenue.
Once completed, the multi-million-shilling tunnel will not only insulate the 416 legislators but also ease their movement around Parliament precincts — the main Parliament Building, County Hall and the multi-storey office complex whose cost has since been varied to almost Sh9 billion.
Mr Nyegenye said Parliament would provide ducts within the tunnel for linking the related buildings, mainly carrying power, data and voice services.
The budget for the construction of the tunnel is part of the Sh2.5 billion allocated to the PSC in the first supplementary budget passed in October for the completion of the office complex.
However, Mr Barasa Nyukuri, a governance expert, said the timing of the construction was wrong as there were more important projects to be undertaken by the government.
“This project is shrouded in luxury because it is an issue of class,” said Mr Nyukuri.
“The funds allocated would have served a good purpose if they were channelled to finance something like a state-of-the-art library or employ resource persons to aid MPs in legislative research work.”
Mr Nyegenye said during the design of the multi-storey office block, a traffic study was undertaken on the roads around Parliament.
It established that it was necessary to separate the entry and exit of vehicles to the basement parking due to the size of the building and the amount of traffic that will be generated.