The object of the Bill is to provide for the regulation of inland water transport by providing for registration and licencing of vessels, the safety of life and navigation on inland waterways, the prevention of pollution and protection of the marine environment and marine security, regulation of ports, repealing of Vessel (Registration)Act, Cap362,the Ferries Act, Cap 355, the Inland Water Transport (Control) Act Cap 356, Part XII of Uganda
Railways Corporation Act, Cap 331, and to consolidate the law relating to shipping in Uganda and any other matters related to water transport.
The Inland Water Transport subsector is characterized by disjointed and old laws and standards which require immediate review and harmonization. At present, the sub-sector is regulated under the Vessel (Registration) Act, Cap 362; the Ferries Act, Cap 355; the Inland Water Transport (Control) Act Cap 356; Part XII of the Uganda Railways Corporation Act, Cap 331 most of these laws were enacted during colonial times when this subsector was performing at a minimal level.
There are a number of things that have emerged since colonial times including the standard operating procedures, the types of vessels, the new trends and dynamics in the water/maritime transport management, increased number of users, increased accidents and conduct of investigations and the need to conform to regional and international Conventions that Uganda is a party to.
Further to the above, Uganda acceded to the International Maritime Organisation Conventions which compels State
Parties to comply with international standards for the safety of lives, vessels, and the environment. The Bill seeks to domesticate these Conventions through the incorporation of these Conventions. In the same vein certain provisions of the Lake Victoria Transport Act, 2007 that were not yet operationalized have been operationalized
by the Bill.
The current laws regulating water transport in Uganda are not harmonised and this often leads to overlap of mandates when any attempt is made at implementation. For instance, matters relating to ports are provided for under the Uganda Railways Corporation Act, Cap. 331 while the Inland Water Transport (Control) Act, Cap 356 refers to a board established under the Traffic and Road Safety Act as the board responsible for licencing of Vessels. This is not conducive for water transport developments and subsequent regulation.
There has been no established institution with clear functions to regulate and enforce safety measures on water transport in Uganda and the current laws have weak sanctions and penalties for the offenders of the laws in maritime transport.
Hence the need to improve and harmonise the legislation in this subsector taking into account the emerging trends and ensure that the law is sufficiently relevant to Uganda’s development plans.