The construction of a Sh110 million tunnel linking Parliament with County Hall and the MPs’ Sh5.8 billion office block across the road begins this week.
The tunnel, which is expected to be complete by May, is aimed at reducing traffic in the area when the 27-storey office block is built.
“The tunnel is mainly meant for access of vehicles to the basement parking in the building under construction,” said Parliamentary Service Commission secretary Jeremiah Nyegenye.
“The building, when completed, will provide parking for 400 vehicles.”
The tunnel is also intended to protect ‘honourable’ MPs from intrusive constituents. Legislators have on several occasions complained to the parliamentary leadership of being accosted by their supporters and strangers outside Parliament for financial and other assistance.
According to the Daily Nation, all the requirements have been finalised and it is matter of time before the laying of the foundation stone is done, effectively cushioning the MPs from intrusions such as traffic snarl-ups at the gate of Parliament.
Sonko’s administration has already notified the public about the expected disruption of traffic on Harambee Avenue during the construction. Motorists and pedestrians have been told to use alternative routes.
According to a press release by the Nairobi county government, construction works should have begun, since the section of Harambee Avenue between Parliament Road roundabout and Uhuru Highway junction was supposed to have been blocked by November 6.
A study done on the project recommended that vehicles enter the main Parliament through the entrance opposite County Hall and then enter the tunnel near the staff canteen and cross Harambee Avenue underground to the first basement.
The vehicles will then exit the basement parking on the southern end of the building, which is the side that overlooks Haile Selassie Avenue.
Once completed, the tunnel will not only insulate the legislators but also ease their movement around Parliament precincts — the main Parliament Building, County Hall and the multi-storey office complex whose cost has since risen to almost Sh9 billion.
“Whenever vehicles cross at the same level, like on roundabouts, serious congestion is witnessed,” said Mr Nyegenye.
The budget for the construction of the tunnel is part of the Sh2.5 billion allocated to the PSC in the first supplementary budget passed in October for the completion of the office complex.
Additional Reporting by Daily Nation