The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi has tabled the Explosives Bill, 2023 which proposes Shs10 billion in fines, 10-year jail term or both for new offences it proposes.
Tabled during the plenary siting held on Tuesday, 15 August 2023, the 47 clauses Bill has been referred to the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs by the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
Muhoozi said the new law is intended to streamline the licensing of explosives and its use in the mining sector, repeal the existing Explosives Act 1936, and create the position of Chief Explosives Inspector, among others.
“The absence of major reforms in the existing law on explosives has made it difficult to regulate the use, storage and manufacture of explosives resulting into unauthorised access to explosives; he said adding that, ‘the Bill, therefore, seeks to regulate the manufacture, storage, use, dealing, import, export and transportation of explosives for purposes of averting any security threats relating to explosives’.
Clause 10 of the Bill proposes the creation of the position of Chief Explosives Inspector who will be poached from any of the existing security agencies and could be vested with sweeping powers in the licencing, supervision and inspection of players in the explosives industry, should the Bill become law.
The Bill defines explosives and seeks to steer clear of explosives imported for use as war material by security agencies, restricting itself to explosives used in mining and other related undertakings.
Clause 28 seeks to severely punish the unlicensed use or possession of explosives, suggesting that offenders should suffer a fine of Shs10 billion or a 10 years jail term or both such imprisonment and fine.
In clause 29, the procedure for obtaining a licence for purposes of importing or using explosives is proposed, with the Minister of Internal Affairs given possible sweeping powers in even determining the licencing fees.
The unlicenced importation or exportation of explosives is to be prohibited if clause 31 is passed, with the harsh penalty of 10 years in jail and or Shs10 billion in fines.
Transportation of explosives without a valid license is also lined up for prohibition under clause 34 of the Bill with offenders facing a Shs10 billion fine and or 10 years in jail.
Under Clause 40, the Bill seeks to create vicarious liability on the part of directors or executive heads of legal entities found in violation of any provisions, should the Bill become law.
“Where an offence provided for under this Act is committed by a legal entity, a director or the executive head of the legal entity is deemed to have committed that offence,” reads Clause 40 of the Bill.
Relatedly, Clause 41 creates a duty of care on the part of persons or entities using explosives and sets out punishment for careless offenders to negligently injure neighbours or damage their properties, a provision which could turn out to be a major relief for families which are constantly in courts wrangling with companies whose blasting activities cause massive damages to their properties.
Clause 44 creates an obligation on those using explosives to mind the environment and put in place measures to safeguard properties from harm and damage arising from explosives.
According to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, the Committee has up to 45 days to scrutinize and process the Bill for second reading.