Dangerous ferries remain only option for highlanders
DAK NONG (VNS)– Hundreds of students, teachers and residents are being put in daily danger as they have to cross the fast-flowing Dak R'mang River in rickety wooden ferries.
The ferries - which run from Quang Hoa Commune in Dak G'Long District of Central Highland Dak Nong Province to Da R'sal Commune of Dam Rong District in Lam Dong Province - mostly serve the residents' need to go tilling and childrens' need to go to school.
It operates from 6am to 6pm daily, crossing about 60m of river with a swift-flowing current.
Tran Van Dung, one of the ferry owners, said each ferry was only allowed to carry four persons and two vehicles. "We also provide life jackets and each resident only pays VND5,000 to cross the river, while it's free for students and teachers."
The ferries, however, carry about 400 people on a daily basis and some residents say they're often charged VND10,000 instead.
During rush hour, each ferry carries about five motorbikes and seven people with other belongings. According to Sung Van Dau, a resident in Quang Hoa Commune, most of the residents and students in his commune are forced to cross the river to Lam Dong Province. "We have no other way," he said.
Le Viet Sinh, chairman of the Quang Hoa People's Committee, said the commune was one of the far-flung areas of the Dak G'long District with mountainous terrain, making it extremely difficult to commute.
According to local authorities, they annually provide life jackets to residents crossing the river as a result of a recent accident, but most do not wear them.
In the rainy season and when flood waters rise, these ferries are banned from operating. However, some ignore this rule to due to the commuter demand.
Two years ago, the Dak R'Mang bridge was slated for operation in 2012 but construction has been delayed, meaning the ferries remain an inevitable choice for residents. — VNS