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Resumption of Nairobi County Assembly sittings put on hold

The Nairobi County Assembly will not resume its normal sittings any time soon despite other county assemblies across the country being in session.

The assembly was suspended for 30 days by Speaker Beatrice Elachi last month and was to resume its normal business this week but this will now not be the case.

SITTINGS

Speaker Elachi has said that the earliest the assembly can resume normal sittings will be after the lapse of the 21-day cessation of movement in the Nairobi Metropolitan area.

“We have to wait for the 21 days of containment by President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to an end for normal House business to resume,” said Ms Elachi.

The Presidential decree issued on April 6, prohibited movement into and out of Nairobi metropolitan area, effectively banning upcountry travel and disrupting domestic flights.

This now means that the plenary sittings will not resume until after April 27, 2020 when the 21-day containment order by President Uhuru Kenyatta lapses.

The assembly was meant to resume sittings this week on April 16, 2020 following an earlier 30-day suspension of sittings by the Speaker.

The development comes even as the National Assembly resumed plenary sittings on Tuesday albeit with new precautionary measures implemented in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

GUIDELINES

The members of parliament are expected to ratify into laws measures put forward by the national government to mitigate effects of coronavirus.

On Monday, the National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai announced that only 44 MPs would be allowed to access the chambers at any given time in the new guidelines with staff aged 58 years and above to and those with existing medical conditions will work from home.

Parliament is considering meeting only once a week, on Wednesdays, to continue with House business amidst coronavirus pandemic.

Nairobi County Assembly was suspended on March 16, 2020 due to fears of the spread of coronavirus following the announcement of Kenya’s first positive case two days prior.

Kenya has since recorded more than 200 positive cases with nine deaths as well as 40 recoveries.

At the time, there were also fears of interaction between members after some MCAs and members of staff had just returned from trips abroad in already affected countries.

SUSPENSION

The suspension came just three days before the scheduled two weeks short recess.

However, Ms Elachi said special sittings could be called in case of any compelling need with the Assembly’s Board required to put in place stringent mechanisms to ensure health of MCAs and assembly staff is not put at risk during such sittings.

On April 2, 2020, the county assembly held a special sitting where only 42 members were allowed into the chambers at any given time during the sitting.

“As such, admittance to the chamber shall be on a first come first serve basis with the Assembly leadership, liaison and the Budget Committee being given priority,” she said.

Members aged 55 years and above were not be allowed in the Assembly precincts since they are vulnerable to the virus and advised to stay at home.

Biometric clocking in by members as they enter the Chambers was also done away with with manual log in preferred.