TOP
Monday,August 03,2020 20:27 PM
  • Home
  • Business
  • Uganda lacks a serious law to regulate water transport

Uganda lacks a serious law to regulate water transport

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th June 2002 03:00 AM

On Monday May 20, yet another tragedy struck the waters of lake Victoria, when 27 people died in a boat that capsized in Kalangala. The boat was carrying 34 people and an assortment of merchandise.

On Monday May 20, yet another tragedy struck the waters of lake Victoria, when 27 people died in a boat that capsized in Kalangala. The boat was carrying 34 people and an assortment of merchandise.

By John Kamya On Monday May 20, yet another tragedy struck the waters of lake Victoria, when 27 people died in a boat that capsized in Kalangala. The boat was carrying 34 people and an assortment of merchandise. The police stated that the boat was overloaded and the engine failed, causing the wind to blow it over. Three weeks later, on June 8, another boat carrying 57 people capsized on the same lake. 49 bodies were recovered and their were 8 survivors. This raises the question of safety of transport on our waters. First of all, the sector lacks standards. There is no guidelines as to the specifications of vessels to be manufactured. “People just go to traditional boat makers. There is no standard as to what type of timber to be used, life span of the boat, etc. This leaves the sector prone to dangers,” said Mr. Jackson Draza, the second in charge of the police marine unit. Secondly, there is no school for training of boat navigators in the country. Therefore, there is no concept like ‘trained or licensed navigator’. People assume that if they have traversed the waters for a long period of time, are born in the islands or own an engine and a boat then they have got a ‘license’ to navigate boats. This is worsened by the irresponsible acts of islanders, of overloading, failure to sail while wearing life jackets, loading people together with animals and mechanise, etc. Another big problem about maritime safety is Uganda lacks a comprehensive law to regulate water transport. There is no law which sets standards on how many people should be on a particular type of boat and which size of boat should be propelled by which capacity of engine. Just as an omnibus is licensed to 14 passengers, so should a boat. The vessel (Registration) Act of August 1904 sets the registration requirement for boats, which are evidently lacking. Its Section 17 sets the punishment to a fine of sh600 for failure to register a vessel, with no option of imprisonment. Another law that regulates safety on waters is The Inland Water Transport (Control)Act of 1939. Although this law puts a requirement for vessel licensing, it is not clear on the types of licensing, say for cargo and passengers. It does not put a requirement for navigators of boats to own navigation permits, the equivalent of driving permits for motorists. Section 14 spells out the punishment for violating sections of the Act at a fine of sh2000 or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both. There is no law that requires sailors to wear life jackets, which is a big flaw. Parliament needs to enact laws that fit the modern trends to improve safety. Alternatively, local governments of areas where there are water bodies should use their legislative powers to enact by-laws that can put safety standards for water transport. Section 39 of the local government Act (1997) give district local councils powers to make ordinances, which are binding laws. Section 40 gives lower councils powers to make by-laws too. This is more effective than waiting for the central government to act. With better laws, the police will ensure a safer mode of transport. Meanwhile, in a meeting between members of Kasenyi landing committee and the Inspector General of Police, it was decided that all boat owners should procure life jackets equivalent to the boat’s passenger capacity. Travelling on the waters at night was also discouraged. Water travellers need to exercise a sense of responsibility and act safe.

Uganda lacks a serious law to regulate water transport

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author