HA NOI — The Ministry of Transport is seeking opinions from the public on draft safety regulations for vessels providing tourists with accommodation and food.
|A marine police craft approaches a tourist boat off the coast of Quang Ninh Province in order to carry out an on-the-spot safety check. The Ministry of Transport is drafting safety regulations for tourist boats that provide accommodation and food. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tan
Trinh Ngoc Giao, head of the ministry's Viet Nam Register department, said it was the first time specific standards had been considered.
One of the new rules suggested was banning the use of timber boats because some people feel they are not as safe as metal.
At present, tourist vessels come under the general classification of inland water craft and do not face regulations on the types of construction materials, facilities, room standards or life jackets. Due to the lack of specific regulations, substandard hotel and restaurant boats were last year involved in several accidents that killed dozens of people.
Local authorities have little legal base to control these boats or punish their owners.
Under the draft regulations, timber will not be allowed in the construction of hotel and restaurant boats.
Giao said timber vessels in use would be inspected and if they did not provide enough safety, they would not be allowed to operate.
The number of life jackets must also be more than the number of passengers and be located in bedrooms, dining rooms and bars.
All facilities and decorations must be firmly fixed for all weather conditions and must meet standards set down in the Law on Fire Prevention.
All exit doors must be large enough to allow free movement of passengers. Exit maps and instructions for using life saving equipment in Vietnamese and English must be provided in all public places and private rooms.
Pham Dang Manh, a boat owner in northern Ha Long City said many boat owners needed Government assistance to improve boat facilities if the regulations were accepted.
According to the statistics from the Viet Nam Register, more than 200 registered hotel and restaurant boats are presently in use.
Southern Binh Duong Province's timber Din Ki boat was carrying 26 people when it sank under heavy rain and strong wind last May, killing five people, mainly women and children.
An investigation showed the boat was built with substandard materials and was not equipped with life jackets. — VNS