|About 1,400 vessels every day travel through the Cho Gao Canal in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang. — Photo baomoi
HCM CITY (VNS) — Barges and boats travelling on waterway routes from HCM City to the Mekong Delta are ignoring regulations on overloaded cargo, while officials do not have sufficient means to control the worsening situation.
Demand for waterway transport has increased because of sand exports to Singapore, stone exports and imported raw materials for animal food from Cambodia, and demand for sand in HCM City and neighbouring provinces.
"If control is not tightened, the number of overloaded barges and boats will certainly increase," Tran Do Liem, vice chairman of Viet Nam Inland Waterway Transport Association, was quoted in Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
About 1,400 vessels every day travel through the Cho Gao Canal in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
Most of them transport sand and stone for construction in HCM City and neighbouring provinces. Ninety per cent of the boats and barges are overloaded.
"If we transport only the allowed load, we will suffer loss," a steersman said.
Last year, traffic police in Tien Giang Province fined 13,140 waterway transport vessels for overloaded cargo shipped from My Thuan to Cho Gao.
In the Mekong Delta, along key waterway routes, construction activity is common at local households, storage sites, rice factories, shops and ports.
Many construction sites violate waterway routes, some reaching 12 -15m from the bank.
Overloaded vessels on narrow waterway routes are at high risk of accidents.
"It's not easy to deal with overloaded waterway transport, despite the fact that it is easy to see," said Vu Kim Lan, head of the second inspection team, of HCM City's Transport Department.
Vessel owners often have to pay other kinds of fines given by authorities in various localities.
In addition, low fines of VND2.5 million (US$120) for the first violation and VND3 million ($140) for the next violation have little impact on violators.
"We can only fine and then let them continue to move because we cannot unpack the overloaded commodities," Lan said.
Waterway transport vessels often carry thousands of tonnes of commodities and overloaded goods can reach several hundred tonnes.
Authorities do not have enough storage and cranes to unpack overloaded commodities.
In addition, HCM City has only one place with limited space in District 8 to keep barges that were in violation.
"The Ministry of Transport's Viet Nam Inland Waterways Administration has instructed all transport departments to significantly increase their fines on overloaded barges and boats," Phan Van Duy, deputy head of the Administration, said.
Control will be tightened at ports and relevant authorities will refuse to grant permission if vessels are overload, he added. — VNS