New weather bill set to be tabled

2011-09-30 20:02

Cape Town - Draft legislation to extend the operation of the SA Weather Service (SAWS) to provide air quality information and issue air-pollution warnings, is to be tabled at Parliament in October.

The SA Weather Service amendment bill, published in draft form for public comment in May this year, also limits the liability of SAWS, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in a statement on Friday.

Her intention to table the bill was published earlier in the Government Gazette.

Among other things, the draft legislation, once enacted, will legally mandate SAWS to operate the SA Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) and the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network (NAAQMN).

SAAQIS and NAAQMN are electronic, web-based, air-quality information systems, .

According to a memorandum attached to the measure, it will become "an offence for any person to issue a severe weather or air-pollution related warning without the written permission" of SAWS.

The existing act carries no such provision.

"It is necessary that only the Weather Service must be able to issue severe weather-related warnings in order to ensure that there is only one authoritative voice," the memorandum states.

Molewa said anyone contravening this would be liable, for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding R5m, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both.

For a second offence, these figures would double.

The amendment bill also seeks to insert a clause absolving SAWS from liability for any loss or injury as a result of its performing, or not performing, its duties as a weather service, unless such performance or non-performance is "unlawful, negligent or in bad faith".