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Hazards, risks in transporting dangerous goods

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Added 3rd August 2019 10:04 AM

The responsible ministries and bodies should, therefore, be alert to regulate the said cycle process (from the production of oil to the waste disposal).

Hazards, risks in transporting dangerous goods

Justus Nuwajuna Kamuhanda

The responsible ministries and bodies should, therefore, be alert to regulate the said cycle process (from the production of oil to the waste disposal).

By Justus Nuwajuna Kamuhanda

I can't wait to see Uganda entering middle income. However, as Ugandans anticipate the handover ceremony of poverty as they enter the middle income with Uganda's first oil in 2022, they should prepare for risk management, the process of oil production, transportation, storage usage and disposal of wastes.

The responsible ministries and bodies should, therefore, be alert to regulate the said cycle process (from the production of oil to the waste disposal). They include the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development that is mandated under Toxic Chemicals Prohibition Control Act 2016 and Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006 to regulate all products that contain dangerous substances,  the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) under National Environment Act cap 153 and all other responsible ministries.

According to Energy minister Irene Muloni Uganda's first oil is expected in 2022. Uganda has 6.5 billion barrels of oil reserves located mostly on its western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo French firm Total, S.A., Chinese firm China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and U.K. firm Tullow have production licenses to develop Uganda's oil reserves for export hence needs to regulate the transportation, storage and disposal of waste since oil also contains hazardous substances.


There are various risks involved when transporting hazardous substances. These include damage in transit, loss and theft, fire, explosion, leaks, and spills. Many goods are not dangerous themselves but contain harmful substances which could cause harm to the environment, people or both.

Although Uganda is planning to transport the said oil using pipeline, there are different ways on how to transport such goods that contain harmful substances and these include but not limited to transport by road, sea, and air

Before you transport any goods by road or rail, you'll need to identify if your goods are dangerous. Many goods are not dangerous themselves but contain substances which could present a hazard to people, the environment or both. Dangerous goods may include substances that are explosive, toxic, radioactive, corrosive or flammable such as oil and gas.

Also if you transport dangerous goods by sea, you must comply with the International Maritime Organisation's Dangerous Goods Code. And equally, if you transport dangerous goods by air, you must comply with regulations set out in the International Air Transport Association's Dangerous Goods Regulations Manual

In the event of a road or rail accident, spillage of these substances could cause hazards such as fire, damage to the environment and chemical burns. Therefore if you want to transport these types of material, you must identify the hazards involved. This process is known as classification.

And if the goods you're transporting are dangerous, it's likely you'll have to comply with a range of important legal requirements otherwise in case of accident may risk prosecution with both criminal and civil actions for example: during transporting dangerous goods and before the destination, an accident happens that damage either property, life, and environment, all victims may bring actions for compensation under polluter pays principle but also the transporter may be prosecuted criminally for not following the law governing transport of dangerous goods and by NEMA for costing the environment. 

As the head of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda Ernest Rubondo said they are in place to ensure optimal management of the sector and efficient management of the costs, should go ahead to ensure that risk management is addressed.
 
On May 19, 2017, the presidents of Uganda and Tanzania signed an agreement over construction terms for a 1400 km heated oil export pipeline from western Uganda to Tanzania's Indian Ocean port of Tanga. One of the reasons as to why they revised the decision on the route was insecurity due to potential exposure to Somali Al Shabab terrorist activities along that route.

Ugandan's oil and gas although expected to be transported through pipeline somehow may be transported by other means. The pipeline infrastructure required to develop Uganda's oil sector is estimated to cost several billion dollars and major construction in the up-, mid-, and downstream components of the sector was projected by the government to begin this year 2019. 

In December 2016, the Government of Uganda finalized the implementing regulations for the 2013 Petroleum (Exploration, Development, and Production) Act:
Section 10 (2)(n) of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development, and Production) Act, 2013 the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) must "ensure the establishment of a central database of persons involved in petroleum activities."

The Petroleum Authority requests firms seeking to be placed on the National Supplier Database attest that their registration documents are authentic.  The Petroleum Authority has notified the Embassy that notarizing this attestation at the U.S. Embassy satisfies the Petroleum Authority's requirement this can be seen to be an effort to regulate transporters.

Remember a field study on the pipeline was launched in January 2017. Gulf Interstate, the contractor is required to map out the actual route, technical designs, and cost for the pipeline which is currently estimated to cost about $ 3.55 billion including risk management during transportation.

While Uganda waits with bated breath for its first drop of oil in 2020, it is under scrutiny over how it will handle a natural resource that is both considered a blessing and a curse if handled well or mishandled respectively hence the process from production, transportation, storage usage and disposal of wastes needs to be well managed.

The question whether Uganda will use its" black gold" to propel her economy to a much desired middle-income status by 2020 depends largely on GoU's commitment to among other things prioritize national participation, promote environmental sustainability especially in ecologically sensitive exploration areas and the strategies in place to avert the oil curses that has struck other oil-rich nations

Legal framework

Principle XXIII of National Objectives and Directives of state policy under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for state's duty to deal with any hazard or disaster, principle XXVII of the same National Objectives provides for state's duty to promote sustainable development and public awareness

Article 8A provides for veneration of the principles of National objectives, Article 39 of the Republic of Uganda   provides for every Ugandan's right clean and healthy environment

Article 40 and 245 of the Republic of Uganda provide for parliament to make laws to safety and health at the workplace and protect the environment respectively and the Uganda Petroleum (exploration, development, and production) 2013 was enacted to regulate our oil.

Article 244 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and section 44of the land Act provides for the state's duty to take care of minerals and petroleum on behalf of the Republic of Uganda

Section 26 and 33 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006 provides for safe premises and information of produced chemicals and sections 5 and 7 of toxic Chemicals Prohibition Act 2016 allows convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons and requires the producer or importer of such chemicals to get permission respectively.

It is opined that it is the above background and the provisions of the law that stimulated Government of Uganda through the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) to come up with Chemical Safety and Security project (CHESASE) to sensitize and provide public awareness on chemical use including but not limited to production and transportation of our Ugandan oil.

Therefore as we are smiling about our rich oil, we need to mind about measures to protect human life and the environment.

The writer is a lawyer working with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD)

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