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City rivers drowned in red tape

Update: August, 26/2013 - 08:50
Vessels travel on Xa No Channel in Vi Thanh City, Mekong Delta Hau Giang Province. Under the Inland Waterway Traffic Law, many agencies are involved in the management of inland waterway routes, causing overlapping and hindering infrastructure development. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong

HCM CITY (VNS)— Overlapping management of inland waterway traffic has hindered infrastructure development in HCM City and made it difficult to penalise violations and effectively tackle the problem of increasing accidents, local officials say.

Tran The Ky, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Transport, said at a conference on implementation of the Inland Waterway Traffic Law held last Friday in HCM City, that many agencies were involved in the management of inland waterway routes.

He noted that the city had more than 9,000km of rivers and canals.

He said 16 national waterway routes were managed by the Viet Nam Inland Waterway Administration while the Viet Nam Maritime Administration was responsible for seven routes and the municipal Department of Transport managed 87 city-level routes.

Colonel Vo Van Van, head of the HCM City Waterway Traffic Police, told the conference that the operation of hydrofoils on HCM City-Vung Tau route carried a high risk of incidents because the boats were outdated and failed to meet safety criteria.

Most of the 21 hydrofoils operated by four enterprises in the city had been in use for more than 20 years. Of these 11 had two engines and the others had only one engine, Van said.

Since June 2007 to date, hydrofoils on the HCM City-Vung Tau route had been involved in 34 accidents including collisions and engine breakdowns, he added.

In the first seven months of this year, there had been 14 instances of hydrofoil engines breaking down.

Strict management of these boats would be vital to prevent potentially tragic accidents, Van said.

Ky proposed at the conference that regulations should be issued to limit the period for which hydrofoils can be used as also ban the import of boats that are more than 10 years old.

The conference also heard that illegal wharves and encroachment of rivers and canals heightened the risk of waterway traffic accidents and worsened pollution of the waterways.

Huynh Thanh Lap, head of the HCM City National Assembly Delegation, said that the Inland Waterway Traffic Law, which has been in force since 2005, should be amended to eliminate shortcomings.

Overloading to blame

Overloading and travel in restricted waters are among the reasons for a boat accident on the Soai Rap River in HCM City which killed nine people early this month, announced the Viet Nam Maritime Administration.

Initial investigation results revealed that the boat was carrying 30 passengers at the time of accident, 2.5 times higher than the allowed number, while operating in restricted waters.

The investigation results also showed that the boat, under current regulations, was not authorised for use with passengers and the vessel was inappropriately controlled under conditions of high waves and overloading.

Additionally, the vessel's operator did not possess a high-speed boating licence, nor was the vessel registered to moor or leave port as regulated. The vessel was also found to have entered restricted areas.

Investigation results further found that certain individuals had violated inland water traffic regulations, particularly by hiding information relating to the accident and failing to inform rescue forces in a timely manner, thereby worsening the accident's consequences.

These violations were found to show signs of criminal activity and the investigation was handed over to the HCM City Police for further investigation.

The boat, owned by Ba Ria-Vung Tau Guard, sank on the evening of August 2 amid strong winds and high waves near Can Gio District in HCM City, drowning nine people. — VNS


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