EALA passes bill on transboundary ecosystems / Law shall ensure sustainable utilisation of shared resources
KAMPALA, Uganda, January 31, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Assembly has today debated and passed the East African Community Transboundary Ecosystems Bill 2010. The Bill which sailed through the 3rd Reading late this afternoon, now moves an inch closer to becoming a law of the Community.
The Bill whose debate was suspended last year received overwhelming support when it came up for debate on the floor of the House. The Council of Ministers had in September 2011 during the 1st Meeting of the 5th Session held in Kigali, Rwanda, requested more time to consult. The adjournment was further stayed in November 2011 during the subsequent 2nd Meeting of the 5th Session held in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Key among the concerns of the Council of Ministers was the need to clarify the mandate of the envisaged Commission for the management of transboundary ecosystems vis-a-vis existing institutions. At the same time, Council felt there was an imminent conflict on matters of land given the fact that such matters remain a preserve of the Partner States as stated in the Common Market Protocol.
The object of the Bill originally moved by Hon. Dr. George Francis Nangale is to provide for a legal framework to effectively streamline the management of trans-boundary eco-systems with a view to enhancing the quality of the environment and also ensure sustainable utilization of shared natural resources in the EAC. It seeks to provide for the management and regulation of transboundary ecosystems to establish a Commission managing ecosystems in the region and other related matters.
In his contribution today, Hon Gervase Akhaabi noted that the passage of the Bill would protect the livelihoods and manage the resources while Hon Christopher Nakuleu termed the Bill timely for the region if the EAC was to protect its natural resources.
Hon Dr. Aman Kabourou however stated the law would contradict national policies. “ While I am not against protecting our shared eco-systems including Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa basin, we have to be careful so as not to contradict existing policies and laws in the respective Partner States,” Hon Kabourou remarked.
On his part, Hon Augustine C.L Lotodo noted that the EAC Transboundary Ecosystems Bill clearly addressed matters of common interest in natural resources which EALA was duty bound to support. .
Hon Lydia Wanyoto stated the law would help the EAC harness its natural resources for posterity since it among other areas sought to manage future conflicts on the shared regional resources.
According to Hon Sebalu the Bill is a well thought-out law that manages the transboundary ecosystem s for mutual benefit of the region. The law takes care of any existing or future bilaterals between the Partner States as well. The legislator noted that climate change was adversely affecting the region and the sooner the issues were addressed, the better. “It is important for Partner States to cede sovereignty so that expectations of the East African people are met”, Hon Sebalu remarked stating the law fully acknowledged and complemented the national laws and institutions on issues of transboundary nature.
Other Members who rose in support of the Bill were Hon Catherine Kimura, Hon Dr. Said Bilal, Hon Dora Byamukama and Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye. Hon Dr. F.L Masha and Hon Dr Kabourou recorded reservations in the interesting debate that lasted close to six hours.
The Bill shall now go through the succeeding stages of assent with the Speaker of the Assembly expected to submit the amended /Assent copies to the Heads of State for assent. Should it be assented (signed) to by the five Heads of State, then it shall become law.
The House resumes business on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Tomorrow, the Assembly shall have a meeting with GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation).