Tag Archive | Adv Adam Masombuka

Oil pollution in SA waters to be tackled

Oil pollution clean up fund….

oil_tankerWith a series of Bills on merchant shipping, South Africa is about to fall into line with international conventions on oil pollution at sea. The department of transport has now briefed the relevant parliamentary committee on two bills, the last of four now being dealt with designed to fund South Africa’s ability to clean up on any future oil spills in regional waters.

Opposition members pointed out that the minister of transport, who tabled the Bill, appeared not to have consulted with environmental parties in the drafting of the Bill and in subsequent discussions with stakeholders, being merely concerned with SA’s international obligations and the collection of levies by SARS for a fund, they said.

Getting the law right

Advocate Adam Masombuka, chief director for legal services, department of transport (DOT), said that before them were the tandem Merchant Shipping (Civil Liability Convention) Bill and the Merchant Shipping (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) Contributions Bill, the first being designed to enact the International Maritime Organisation Protocol of 1992 and the second to create mechanisms for companies to pay into a fund for oil pollution damage.

Both would ensure that the amended International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969 becomes law in South Africa, he said.   He added that the other two Bills were Money Bills, separately being tabled by Treasury to deal with the collection of tariffs by SARS and consequent distribution.

Polluter pays

“The purpose of the fund is to pay compensation to victims of pollution damage and the fund is to be financed by cargo owners, namely those who transport more than 150 000 tonnes of oil per annum”, Adv. Masombuka said.   He gave the assurance that the Bill was fully supported  by the fuel companies importing oil and by the SA Petroleum Producers Association.

The two Bills are in tandem; conform to international best practices and complement each other, he said. He told parliamentarians that enactment of the Bills would provide a fund for insurance against damages from shipping accidents; the ship owners carrying the oil cargo being covered by insurance with a fee into the fund and the cargo owners, mainly the fuel companies or their agents who imported oil products, paying a levy.

The fund itself acted as a “top-up” insurance to pay the outstanding balance for any pollution damages, said Adv. Masombuka. The portfolios committee did not present any objections to either Bill.

Like carbon tax

Hamida Fakira, deputy director general, DOT explained to MPs asking questions that in reality that ship companies  conveying the goods paid an insurance for liability for any accident but the oil companies, the cargo owners importing petroleum, had to contribute as it was a pollutant.   It was a similar issue to that of carbon tax, she said.

Opposition members pointed to the fact that whilst the oil companies, DOT and the relevant international agreements seemed to be all lined up, nobody had consulted with environmental bodies and obtained their views. “This will come out during early August parliamentary hearings”, commented the chairperson.

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