National Assembly to get Facelift After 52 Years

National Assembly to get Facelift After 52 Years

The National Assembly is getting a much-needed facelift after fifty-two of being constructed. Yesterday, the government accepted a grant from the Taiwanese government to renovate the structure’s interior, as well as the exterior. The project seeks to make the building more modern, accessible, and conducive to all sectors of society. Speaker of the House of Representatives Valerie Woods says the endeavor will benefit both parliamentarians and everyday citizens. 

Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House of Representatives: “This is something that is long overdue. It is one of the tenets of open parliament, inclusivity, transparency, accountability, which requires infrastructure that allows that to occur. And we’re so very grateful to the Republic of China Taiwan for the grant based on the project concept that was delivered, the detailed drawings, the oversight by the Minister of Infrastructure, Development, and Housing to make it happen. But I’d also like to acknowledge it would not be possible without first the Ministry of Finance seeing it and acknowledging through the Honorable Prime Minister John Briceno as the Minister of Finance, that yes this is something that needs to be done. And so we’re grateful for the assistance that will come with the relocation that has to be done in order for this to be done relatively within a short period of time and for us to get back to the business within the original building. Definitely those who have mobility issues should see a lift to help them access. Right now if you go in, members’ rooms are not equally apportioned. So in terms of the House the government has a slightly larger room but it’s not even sufficient for the size of even if the government was 16 persons, it’s not sufficient. And the other members’ room which is assigned to the opposition is even smaller. So it also would not be fitting for an opposition of 15 persons. In addition to that, it only has one committee room. So you can imagine if there is an active, functional parliamentary system you can’t have more than one committee meeting at a time. There are no rooms for training or meetings of the staff or meetings with parliamentarians, meetings of members of the parliament who are not ministers, who have their respective offices. In terms of the Senate, the Senate has government, opposition and social partner members. There are no, the members’ room is not sufficient for that kind of configuration and the main chamber itself does not consider that type of configuration. So in addition to that, the acoustics.”

The project is being executed by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing. Colin Escalante, Project Engineer, spoke about the works and the phases in which upgrades will be done. 

Colin Escalante, Project Engineer: “So the project scope is split into two general aspects, which includes the civil works aspect and an architectural works aspect. The civil works aspect shall include the following activities. Construction of parking spaces and access ways around the National Assembly Building to complement what currently exists. Improving the current site drainage works around the National Assembly Building. The second aspect will focus on improving the functionality of the National Assembly Building, which is the architectural component by rearranging the layout of office spaces and common area spaces on the three floors. We’re also looking to upgrade electrical and plumbing items as well as constructing bathrooms for both male and female users. We’re looking at upgrading windows and doors, upgrading of interior wall finishes and floor finishes, and an important aspect of the project includes the installation of an elevator lift system to provide functional access for persons with disabilities. To highlight the technological advancement, as the Vice President had mentioned, we’re looking to install security systems and also for the installation of fire suppression systems. To sort of hit the climate change aspect, not only looking at resiliency of the structure itself but being efficient, we’re looking to upgrade the air conditioning systems within the building as well. And lastly we are looking to do a minor facelift on the exterior of the building when it comes to cleaning and retrofitting of wall and roof surfaces. It is envisaged that the project should commence in I’d say the first quarter of the next financial year and should run for a period of about 10 months.”

The building was inaugurated in 1970.

While the National Assembly building is getting a lot of new features, it remains the home of several pieces of Belizean history. Senator Collet Montejo spoke about the vision the country’s forefathers had and how it is being improved.  

Collet Montejo, Senator: “This building was opened officially on October the 9th, 1971. So if you do the math, it’s been a while. At that time, we had 18 members of the House when it was first opened and seven members of the Senate. Today, we have 31 members, or roughly about 72% more members in the House, and 13 members roughly 85% more members in the Senate. In addition, issues such as gender open and inclusive Parliament, climate change and technology, were not on the radar when this building was first contemplated. Not even parking. Imagine someone with a disability being elected to Parliament or appointed the challenge they would have to get up these stairs and to be able to get to their rightful position, etc. So the time has come.”

Related post

Teaching Commission Rethinks Decision on UDP Mayoral Candidate’s Leave

Teaching Commission Rethinks Decision on UDP Mayoral Candidate’s Leave

The Teaching Services Commission will be rethinking its position on the United Democratic Party Mayoral Candidate Jacklyn Burns after the Chair…
Former Minister Hugo Patt Returns to Senate Inquiry, Dodges Questions Again

Former Minister Hugo Patt Returns to Senate Inquiry, Dodges…

Former Minister of Lands, Hugo Patt, appeared again before the Special Select Senate Committee this morning in Belmopan.  Patt was accompanied…
CWU Negotiations with PM Briceno Signal Potential Resolution on Stevedores’ Redundancy Pay

CWU Negotiations with PM Briceno Signal Potential Resolution on…

The issue of monies owed to the stevedores over their redundancy at the Port of Belize could be concluded as early…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *