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SA Weather Service accused of monopoly

Cape Town, South Africa: 14 organisations from South Africa’s (SA) Maritime Safety Organisation and the Weather and Disaster Observation Service to the FW De Klerk Foundation opposed the SA Weather Service Amendment Bill. If the Bill is approved, it will impose severe penalties on people found guilty of issuing a warning or an alert regarding “severe” weather and air pollution, unless that information was specifically sanctioned by the SA Weather Service.
The proposed penalties include a fine up to ZAR 5 million or prison for not longer than five years, in the case of a first conviction and double that for a second conviction. Only the Weather Service may issue severe weather-related warnings over SA in order to ensure that there is a single authoritative voice in this regard.
The SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service receives real-time weather observations from the public. It disseminates this information, including images and videos via Twitter, Facebook and Amateur Radio Networks to warn the public when severe weather is observed. 
Jean Pierre Arabonis, an oceanographer and meteorologist, provides a marine weather forecasting service through his company Ocean Satellite Imaging Systems to SA’s maritime industry. He stated, “The shipping industry needs four to five days warning. On the contrary, the SA Weather Service put out warning quite late so the law is unfair.”
Similarly, Kobus Botha, the retired dean of agriculture at the former Pretoria University of Technology, runs a weather site called www.weatherphotos.co.za. With over three million hits this year, it is a popular resource for, as he calls it, “the man in the street”. While he does not post warnings or alerts, satellite images of “severe weather” as he calls it, are freely accessible via his site. As well as a host of other weather related information.
The objective of the legislation is to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate or hoax weather warnings.  This legislation will never achieve that, Botha observed. “You will never stop those disseminating weather hoaxes. In the same way as one will never find the originator of a 419 hoax letter.”
He stressed, “Put aside arguments about over-regulation and the impact on commercial weather services; think about the man in the street – especially the poor. Think of their democratic rights and their constitutional right to information. Are you telling me that a neighbour can’t warn others in their community that a flood or a tornado is coming?” 
Source: www.moneyweb.co.za