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You can't sue weatherman for wrong forecasts - proposed law

Proposed law also puts on notice quacks providing weather service and other unregulated service providers.

In Summary

• The proposed law aims to restructure the department, currently domiciled in the ministry of environment, into a world-class weather authority.

• Bogus weather service providers will be jailed for three years.

Past rains in Nairobi's CBD on Moi Avenue.
Past rains in Nairobi's CBD on Moi Avenue.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

You will soon be unable to sue the weatherman for any wrong weather forecast. 

A proposed law protects the meteorological department from being liable for damages arising from its forecasts. 

The law instead blames quacks, who will be jailed three years for spreading false weather information.

 
 

The proposed Meteorological Bill and the Meteorological Policy were published on Wednesday for public debate. 

"The authority is not liable for any damage, loss or injury sustained or alleged to have been sustained, by any person as a result of such person’s reliance on meteorological information provided by the authority," the bill says.

Currently, Kenyan farmers often sue the weatherman for alleged misleading information, but they have never won such cases. 

The meteorological department also provides commercial information to aviation and marine operators, who will also be unable to sue.

The proposed law aims to restructure the department, currently domiciled in the ministry of environment, into a world-class weather authority.

It will now be known as the Kenya National Meteorological Authority, with an increased, independent budget from the Treasury. 

The law also puts on notice quacks and unregulated weather service providers.

 
 

These are blamed for spreading misleading information to the public and farmers, leading to losses. 

Upon conviction, they will now be jailed three years or fined Sh100,000,  or both.

The bill notes all-weather service providers must now be qualified meteorologists who must be registered with a newly-established professional society.

"No person shall practice as a meteorologist and technologist unless he is the holder a practising certificate and a licence to practise that are in force," it says. 

The proposed changes mirror recommendations by the UN's World Meteorological Organisation on how Met departments around the world can stamp their authority and remain relevant amid increasing weather forecasts and information from other sources.

The bill also establishes the Kenya School of Meteorology as the national training institution for the provision of diploma, certificate and professional course in meteorology and related sciences in Kenya. 

It further establishes the Kenya Meteorological Society, modelled along the lines of the Law Society of Kenya. 

All practising meteorologists must be registered with the society, which will promote professional standards.

It will also advise the academic board of the school on examination standards and policies.

The accompanying policy says the bill will give Kenyans a world-class meteorological authority.

It proposes all staff must now undergo continuous professional development in line with the national and international standards.

It also says the authority must be well resourced.

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