The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has signed a contract with Cymain Ghana Limited, a local company, to begin the re-construction of the country’s Old Parliament House. With the Architectural Engineering Services Limited (AESL) as consultants on the project, the signing of the agreement in Accra yesterday paved the way for work to begin on the wing and the auditorium of the Old Parliament House that was gutted by fire in December 2013.
The new edifice will comprise many offices built to suit the work of CHRAJ and an auditorium which will seat between 500 and 700 hundred people.
The cost of the project is GH¢17.8 million and it will be completed in 18 months’ time.
Speaking to journalists after the signing of the contract and the examination of the architectural plans, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal, gave an assurance that the new edifice would be a worthy replacement of the historical monument.
He said it had been a long and rocky road from the time parts of the building were destroyed by fire in December 2013 to the signing of the contract for work to begin and commended the government for its show of commitment to fund the project.
He said the government had also shown its commitment to resource CHRAJ by approving the pegging of the salaries of lawyers at the commission with that of lawyers at the Attorney General’s Department.
That, according to him, had resulted in lawyers from other public institutions responding to advertisements to work with CHRAJ, as against the past when they were not willing to do so.
He said if the government had approved the purchase of vehicles for the commission to be delivered soon and the release of funds for work to commence on the project, then there was hope that funds would be released in a timely manner to enable the contractor to deliver according to the timelines of the project.
“This is all about resourcing CHRAJ,” he added.
An official of the AESL, Mr William Sackey, in his remarks, promised that they would ensure value for money in respect of the construction of the project, adding: “We will not tolerate any shoddy work from the contractor.”
Mr Sackey said the new building would be architecturally in sync with other parts of the Old Parliament House that were still intact.
When asked by journalists if the contractor could meet the 18 months’ timeline, he said only a delay in the release of funds could cause that.
The Chief Quantity Surveyor of Cymain Ghana Limited, Mr Joseph Ofosu Appiah, expressed joy at the fact that the company had been chosen, among several others, to do the job.
He promised that Cymain would endeavour to justify the trust reposed in it by CHRAJ and the government.
The Accra Community Centre was used as Parliament House during the colonial era.
At independence in 1957, the Old Parliament House, comprising the chamber and adjourning offices, was constructed at the site, but the wings adjourning the chamber and parts of the chamber were completely destroyed in the December 2013 fire.
The Old Parliament House has served as the country’s first Parliament House, the offices of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) between 2002 and 2003 and in recent times as the offices of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and CHRAJ.
After the fire incident, EOCO moved to its own premises in Accra.