The Member of Parliament for Kwadaso in the Ashanti region, Dr. Kingsley Nyarko has welcomed the three-week suspension of sittings in Ghana’s Parliament, but wants Parliament to adopt unique and innovative ways to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic within the premises and precincts of Parliament after the suspension.
According to him, it is not enough for the House to shut down after test results from an internal COVID-19 screening exercise has confirmed an upsurge in the spread of the disease among MPs and staff within the compound of the law-making body.
“The decision to shut down Parliament for three weeks; I think that within the context it is not a bad idea. If the situation escalates, Leadership would be blamed for that. So, I think it a step in the right direction. My major worry is, how are we going to deal with the pandemic upon our return. Then it means that we need to do things differently to ensure we find ourselves within a very safe environment.
“Assuming we come back and the numbers still go up, does it mean that we are going to shut down Parliament again? So, we need to find a way of dealing with this pandemic that now seems to be part of our daily living,” he said.
Dr. Nyarko has therefore suggested that, since these times are not normal times and Parliament can also not remain shut for a long time, the House could for instance run on rotational basis in order to limit the numbers that sit at any particular time.
He also suggests that, perhaps Parliament could take full advantage of its virtual platform by tightening the loose ends of the electronic platform to enable the House sit virtually with the active participation of Members remotely from wherever they may be.
“We need to find a unique and innovative way of dealing with this particular pandemic. If we have to embark on rotation where a few Members have to come to transact business in the House on rotational basis; or if we have to go virtual. Something unique must be done to protect those who work within the precincts of Parliament. Parliamentarians and staff as well.
“I am looking forward to the situation whereby stringent measures would be put in place to curtail the surge. Not only within the precincts of Parliament or in the House, but also in the nation. What is the guarantee that when we return, all of us are going to be negative?” he quizzed.
The Kwadaso MP who is in his first term, made the remarks in an interview with parliamentnews360.com in a reaction to the three-week shutdown of Parliament from February 10, to March 2, 2021 as announced by the Speaker on Tuesday, February 09, 2021.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, informed Parliament on Tuesday that some 17 Members of Parliament and 151 staff members had been confirmed positive to the COVID-19 disease within Parliament and hence a suspension of all activities of Parliament was necessary, with the exception of the Appointment Committee of Parliament which was scheduled to vet the President’s nominees for Ministerial appointments from February 10.
The speaker also announced that, MPs and staff would be required to subject themselves to another screening exercise two weeks from the shut down date before the resumption of the House in the following week to ascertain the status of those who will be returning to Parliament.
Speaking on the resumption for Parliamentary duties after the three-week suspension, the MP for Kwadaso, Dr. Kingsley Nyarko, urged his colleague MPs to be circumspect about what they do within the period by adhering strictly to the COVID-19 protocols.
“The fact that Parliament is shutting down does not absolve anybody from contracting the disease because we have to carry ourselves about so well. So, I urge all my colleagues to endeavor to adhere strictly to the protocols and make sure that we come back in good health so that we can contribute in ensuring that government business is not stalled,” he said.
He added that, if it is possible, regular testing should be made mandatory and regular.
“The nature of the disease is such that, you can be negative today and positive tomorrow. Taking the test doesn’t guarantee perpetual immunity from contracting it. That is why regular testing should be mandatory.
“We need to encourage the habit of regular testing. If you get to know your nature, you protect yourself, you protect those within your immediate social milieu, you protect your constituents and people you come into contact with and those you work with,” he said.
Source: Clement Akoloh||parliamentnews360.com