Senators, staff locked out of Parliament in coronavirus precaution

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 00:00 | By
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is escorted to the Special Sitting yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Senators and parliamentary staff aged 58 years and above were yesterday locked out of parliament precincts as part of the safety measures to tame the pandemic.

These include 39 lawmakers and tens of staff who were encouraged to abide by the Presidential directive and work from home.

Only 28 out of the 67 Senators will be allowed to access chamber at any given time.

Lusaka yesterday advised senators and staff and those with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and HIV to also work from home.

 “The Chamber has been re-configured to sit a maximum of 28 Senators only,” Lusaka said.

Accordingly, the Speaker, directed the Senate Leader of Majority Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and his Minority counterpart Senator James Orengo (Siaya) to consult and designate the 28 Senators who shall attend the Senate Plenary sitting and shall similarly do so for subsequent sittings.

He further directed the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that only the 28 designated Senators attend the plenary sitting. Yesterday senators allowed into the chamber wore facemasks.

 And while inside the Chamber, they were required to strictly observe the social distancing, with each Senator restricted to own seat throughout the sittings and not allowed to consult.

In the coming days, any person except the four technical staffers facilitating the sitting shall not occupy the public gallery.

In another development, Senators formed a committee to oversee the emergence response against the respiratory disease.

The seven-member team will also recommend measures to cushion Kenyans against the economic effects of the virus among them ensuring continuous supply of food and other essential commodities at affordable prices.

Members of the team include Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia), Abshiro Halake (Nominated), Mithika Linturi (Meru),  Okong’o Mogeni (Nyamira) , Sylvia Mueni Kasanga (Nominated) , Mohamed Faki (Mombasa).

Meanwhile, the Senate has surrendered Sh200 million of its budget to the Covid-19 emergency response fund.

The House has already asked Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to deduct the amount from its budget allocation for the current financial year 2019/20 to help in the fight against spread of the virus.

  Lusaka said the decision was reached during a meeting of the House Business Committee (HBC) held on Monday.

“The Committee resolved that the Senate shall yield the sum of Sh200 million from our allocation in the current financial year 2019/20 to aid Government efforts in combating the pandemic,” he said.

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