The New Times (Kigali)

11 December 2012

Rwanda: Civil Aviation Bill to Be Reviewed

TRANSLATION errors are mainly the reason why Parliament must re-examine a critical January 2011 civil aviation bill, the Chamber of Deputies heard during the second day of an ongoing extraordinary session on Tuesday.

The State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, convinced the House that the law governing the regulation of civilian air transport needs to be reviewed to correct the errors and align it with the requirements by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), among others.

In spite of MPs agreeing on the need to re-work the bill after the minister's presentation, the issue of translation errors seemed to irk a few members of the August House, including Marie Thérèse Murekatete, who went as far as calling for a reprimand of the translators to curb similar situations in the future.

But the minister shared the blame, dismissing punitive measures as an option.

Dr. Nzahabwanimana said: "We are all part of the process. We cannot punish them, I think they did not do it intentionally. We are going to ensure this does not happen again."

Speaking to The New Times shortly after, Dr. Nzahabwanimana said this was fundamental especially as such laws are linked to international agreements and standards.

The House usually examines bills in the Kinyarwanda version and, after enactment, they undergo a "cleaning" phase where translators align the Kinyarwanda version with English and French versions.

The state minister said: "In trying to match Kinyarwanda with English, they modified the English version which was actually quoting international technical terminology and then a big part of the English version of the law did not match with what was expected in the international language and definitions. Where you have to talk about an airplane, they said aircraft. These are two different things in civil aviation.

"Such wordings and changes caused the bill to be brought back to parliament. That was the main reason. The preliminary examination showed that the change is so big and deep that the only way out was to bring the bill back to parliament."

The 2011 law is also being reviewed after the international law in civil aviation the Kyoto protocol that governs and regulates civil aviation - was repealed.

The minister told The New Times that this necessitates the repealing of all laws in line with similar international agreements. He said the only option was to bring the bill back to parliament.

He further highlighted the need to align the law with new developments in the civil aviation industry.

"There are also routine updates concerning the civil aviation security apparatus that have to be considered. The law concerns, in general, the security for civil aviation. Most issues are linked to changes in technology. For example, it was previously illegal to carry some level of liquids as hand luggage in an aircraft but recently, the ICAO agreed that under some circumstances, with adequate equipment to distinguish liquids that can be used to make explosives and normal liquids that are not dangerous, even a bigger quantity may now be carried on an aircraft."

The minister added: "But now, we have not started implementing this, we have not adopted it in the law. It must be in the law. Security of civil aviation is too sensitive."

Despite the use of other international languages in the aviation industry, English remains the main language of communication in the sector.

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