|The Hoa Sen (Lotus) Ship, operating under Vinashinlines, lies idle in port due to a crack in her hull. Over 40 cargo ships are in a similar situation nationwide because the current law on environmental protection doesn't allow them to be scrapped. — VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI (VNS)— Forty-one ageing cargo ships owned by Vietnamese enterprises are lying idle in ports and harbours around the country because the current law on environmental protection doesn't allow them to be scrapped.
The situation has brought calls from the Viet Nam Marine Administration to change the law.
In Viet Nam, cargo ships over 15 years old are not allowed to operate under the Vietnamese flag, though local firms can use such vessels if they are registered under foreign flags or they are foreign registered.
The administration said the 41 old boats totaled 463,000 DWT (Dead Weight Tonnes), 10 were under foreign flags and all failed to meet marine security and safety standards.
The 2005 Law on Environmental Protection prevents the scrapping of old boats in Viet Nam for fear the country would become a dumping ground.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van Cong said these vessels posed risks to life and property on the waterways and the owners weren't paying fees because the regulations did not provide for them.
"Owners' responsibilities need to be identified (in the regulations)," Cong said.
Deputy head of the ministry's Legal Affairs Department Ho Huu Hoa suggested enterprises seek cargo for the boats and then scrap them abroad. However, in most cases this would be more costly than it was worth.
Other options were to sell the boat for removal or to cancel its foreign nationality so it lost its function as a cargo boat.
Head of administration's Marine Transport and Services Department Trinh The Cuong said the regulations had caused a bottleneck of banks, financers and companies who could not get permission to turn their boats into scrap iron.
"Seeing the experiences from Greece, which has the biggest dumping site for abandoned boats, inflexible regulations could lead to owners scuttling their vessels to claim on insurance," he said. — VNS