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Parliament, City at an impasse over land repossession

Parliament, City at an impasse over land repossession

Office shortage forces parliament to lease building for 15 mln birr annually

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has extended his backing to the House of People’s Representatives (HPR)in the case concerning the repossessionof its plot of land by the Addis Ababa City Administration, this week, The Reporter has learnt.

The city administration – under the leadership of Deputy Mayor Takele Uma (Eng.) – undertook simultaneous operations two months ago, against private investors and government institutions whichhave kept their plots fenced and idle for a long time.

The HPR was one of the institutions whichhave seen their plot of landretaken by the city administration. The plot in question was the one located near Sheraton Addis Hotel.

PM Abiy, who appeared before the Houseto defend his administration’s six-month performance last week, was apparently informed by House Speaker TagesseChafo about the parliamentary plot repossession, sources from the parliament told The Reporter.

While having a chat with each other at the back doors of the Assembly Hall, according to the same sources, the Premier asked the House Speaker why they haven’t begun the constructionof the parliamentarycomplex which had been slated to begin few years ago. Tagessetold the PMthat construction couldn’tbe started sincethe city has already retaken the plots,sourcesadded.

Admitting that he had no idea about the repossession, the PMassured Tagesse that the parliament can re-acquire the title deed and begin construction.

However,the Premier’s intention to back the parliament has contradicted his own remarks introducing his government’s planstostart a mega redevelopment project thatrests onthe same areaas the parliamentary complex. The project includes the area usually known as ErriBekentu in front of the Grand Minilik Palace and it plans to turn the whole area into a series of parks.

In an exclusive interview with Reporter Amharic,last week,Takele, on his part, indicated that his administration is completingthe design work and other related tasks to unveil one mega project in the city, in the near future. Takele, however, did not disclose the specific project or its location.But, hinted that the project will be unveiled publicly, very soon.

If both projects are going to be unveiled soon as both the PM and the Deputy Mayor anticipate, it is not known if the plot of land the parliament claims willbe safe or if it affects the said projects.

So far, it is not known whether the parliament officially requested the City administration to return its plot of land.

The Parliament has repeatedly announced its plans to construct a new facility for a long time. Nevertheless, its project has been delayed in what the former House Speaker once said was due to logistical and financial issues.

Currently, officials of the parliament expressed that the legislative body is facing shortages of facilities including offices for MPs as well as other staff members.

A few years ago, during Speaker Abadulla Gemeda’s tenure, a new project was designed and unveiled highlightingwhat is called “the future generation parliamentary facilities”. But, it never got off the ground. It is to be recalled that Abadulla resigned last year, two years before his term ended.

In related news, The Reporteris alsoinformed that the Parliamentary Secretariatwasforced to acquirea new office building in a nearby office complex, owned bya private developer.

According to sources from the parliament, the new facility is rented at a cost of 15 million birr annually;and is expected to host the would-be Parliamentary broadcasting media.

The new building is located in front of the Parliament’s premises behind Arbegnoch[Patriots] Building in the locality formerly knownArogewKera. The Reporter, however, was not able to confirm the details of the leasing contract for the building.

On the other hand, MPs approved a new draft billthat amends the establishment proclamation for HPR’s secretariat with new provisions that grants more powers to the House Speaker, to appoint the head of the secretariat without consulting the advisory board and the parliamentary whips aswas stipulated inthe previous proclamation.

In addition, the latest bill also enables the legislative body to establish and run its own independent broadcasting media to disseminate information to the public via radio and television in addition to social media platforms.

Ahead of the passing of the proclamation, The Reporter has confirmed that the secretariat has already finalized preparations and acquired the necessary broadcasting equipment to launch its television station.

Nonetheless, the only remaining taskis leasing its own satellite frequency as it had to wait longer for MPs to get the new bill passed.But, even prior to the passing of the bill, the office has been testing its TV transmissionequipment’s over the past few months by connecting with Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation’s ETV News channel Frequency via Nile Satellite (NileSat 12645/27500/V).