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Tuesday,September 22,2020 18:48 PM

New law to check water transport flaws

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th May 2014 05:43 PM

The Ministry of Works and Transport is finalising a bill that seeks to regulate transport operations on all Uganda’s water bodies.

New law to check water transport flaws

The Ministry of Works and Transport is finalising a bill that seeks to regulate transport operations on all Uganda’s water bodies.

By Taddeo Bwambale

The Ministry of Works and Transport is finalising a bill that seeks to regulate transport operations on all Uganda’s water bodies.

The new law will merge existing laws that are regarded by experts as weak and obsolete, compromising maritime safety and security.

The major laws governing water transport in Uganda are the Inland Water Transport (Control) Act revised edition 1964 and The Vessel (Registration) Act 1904 and the Ferries Act.

The Secretary of the Transport Licensing Board, Winstone Katushabe, in an interview with New Vision said the new law would effectively regulate transport on Ugandan water bodies.

“We have hired a consultant to study the existing laws, with a view of coming up with one law to regulate water transport,” he explained.

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The state minister for works and transport, Eng John Byabagambi said the findings of the consultancy would be used to draft an inland water transport bill.

Of all water bodies in Uganda, only transport operations on Lake Victoria are regulated by the Lake Victoria Transport Act that was enacted by the East African Community and assented to by the states in 2009.

Katushabe said the new law would cover all other water bodies that are not regulated by the Lake Victoria Transport Act, and ensure that both laws are in harmony.

The Lake Victoria Transport Act regulates the construction, surveying, registration and licensing of vessels used on Lake Victoria to ensure safety of passengers and cargo. It also prescribes standards for competency of crew.

The Transport Licensing Board, a division of Ministry Works of Works and Transport, is designated as Uganda’s Maritime Administrative Unit under the Act.

Uganda’s water transport infrastructure is dilapidated, with recent efforts being made to improve the sector including rehabilitation of vessels.

Safety regulations on the operations of open boats are weak and the lack of enforcement of measures such as wearing life-jackets has made travelling on waters a perilous journey.

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In a desperate rush to make profit, operators overload their boats, leading to accidents. 

In the most recent incident, over 250 Congolese refugees drowned when their boat overturned on Lake Albert, as they returned home from Kyangwali settlement in March this year.

According to the 2013 Annual Crime Report, cases of drowning in Uganda’s water bodies including rivers and lakes rose by 27% in 2013.

Reported deaths grew from 28 cases in 2012 to 47 in 2013. Rescue emergencies also rose from 56 cases to 81 over the same period, the report shows.

The ministry works of works and transport, in its budget for the financial year 2013/2014, earmarked sh1.8b for the development of inland water transport.


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