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Clean and criss: Last-minute preparations, as Parliament was made ready for the ‘big day’

Published:Wednesday | March 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall
Workers from Milestone Environmental Limited were busy putting the sheen to furniture in the chamber of parliament yesterday, as members return to the House today.
Parliament seems ready for today's sitting.

The swearing-in of a new Parliament is a momentous occasion for any country, and Jamaica is no different as it prepares for members of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to take their seats on the government benches in Gordon House today.

Yesterday, the Parliament building on Duke Street in downtown Kingston was a hive of activity as last-minute preparations were carried out for today's first sitting of both Houses, following the February 25 general election.

From ensuring that there are enough benches on either side of the chamber to ensuring that the desks are clean and the carpet vacuumed, it was work and more work yesterday.

When The Gleaner arrived at Gordon House early yesterday morning, Marshall of the House Kevin Williams was checking to make sure that all the seats were in place and the microphones properly attached and working.

Later, Williams was seen taking the Mace - the symbol of royal authority, without which the Parliament is not properly constituted - for cleaning from the spot where it lay since the House was dissolved on February 5.

Shortly afterwards, a team from Milestone Environmental Limited descended on the House to dust, vacuum, polish, and shine the chamber and surrounding areas.

It was a similar preparation dash outside Gordon House as workers from the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation swept sidewalks and the roadway, cleared drains, and cut bushes to ensure that Duke Street is ready for the scores of dignitaries expected to be there today.

Thirteen first-time members of parliament (MPs) will be among the 63 to be sworn in today, with JLP Leader Andrew Holness to take the place of prime minister for the second time, while People's National Party President Portia Simpson Miller will begin her second stint as leader of the Opposition.

Today's sitting of the Parliament is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with the ceremonial parade before the 21 senators take the Oath of Office, followed by the MPs.

Holness and Simpson Miller are both expected to address today's sitting.