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Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to Introduce the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011 in Parliament
Source: allAfrica.com
Source Date: Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Focus: Information Access, Health
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 05, 2011

In order to meet the requirements for good air quality governance and to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, the department together with SAWS developed the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) and the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network (NAAQMN). Both these systems are operational, but require a clear mandate and empowering clause to implement them efficiently and effectively. Both parties have therefore agreed that an amendment to the SAWS Act is desirable.

Some of the proposed amendments to the SAWS Act provide SAWS with the legal mandate to operate and maintain the SAAQIS; institutionalising the SAAQIS and the NAAQMN to the SAWS objectives; provide SAWS with the mandate to issue air pollution related warnings if it deems necessary and provide for provisions to transfer all staff from the former Chief Directorate Weather Bureau of the Department of Environmental Affairs to SAWS.

The Amendment Bill also includes a section prohibiting any person from issuing a severe weather or air pollution related warning without the necessary written permission from SAWS, supplying false or misleading information about the Weather Service, and unlawfully, intentionally or negligently commit any act or omission which detrimentally affects or is likely to affect the weather service.

Persons contravening this prohibition is guilty of an offence and is liable in the case of a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding five million rand, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or in both instances to both a fine and such imprisonment.

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