|Waterway traffic at Can Tho City. Authorities have warned that many boat stations in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta operate without a licence, threatening the safety of the system. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
HCM CITY (VNS) — Many boat stations in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta operate without a licence, threatening the safety of the system, authorities have warned.
Nguyen Khanh Hai, head of the Dong Thap Province Department of Transport's environment and transport management division, admitted the province had many piers operating without a licence, many of them in water bodies regulated by central authorities.
The Xang – Lap Vo Canal alone has 181 stations, and 79 of them lack or have not renewed their licences, he said.
According to his department, local officials mostly travel by motorbike to inspect boat stations because they do not have boats and other facilities.
In Tien Giang Province, there are hundreds of boat stations in the My Tho city – Cai Lay District section of the Tien River, a tributary of the Mekong.
Most of them belong to companies, shops selling animal feed and construction materials among others and rice millers.
Nguyen Thanh Phuong, owner of a construction materials shop there, said each company and shop there needed a pier for its business.
Huynh Van Nguyen, deputy director of the Tien Giang Province Department of Transport, said the province would zone boat stations and eliminate those not meeting safety standards.
His department would work closely with competent agencies to manage the stations, he said.
The myriad rivers and canals that crisscross the delta play an important role in its transport system.
The number of boats is increasing, but many fail to comply with regulations like registration, having licensed pilots, and weight limits, according to delta authorities.
Illegal sand mining and breeding fish in cages on rivers also adversely affect waterway transport, causing accidents.
In 2010-14, there were 394 traffic accidents in the delta, accounting for 59 per cent of the country's total number, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
An Giang, for instance, had six waterway traffic accidents last year in which 11 people were killed, and province authorities blamed them mostly on the carelessness of pilots attached to unlicensed boat stations.
The province has 140 boat stations that transport goods and people, often carrying passengers and vehicles well above their capacity.
Le Viet Cuong, head of the An Giang Traffic Safety Committee Office, said boat stations have been warned and punished for violations, but violations continue.
Hoang Hong Giang, head of the Viet Nam Inland Waterway Administration, said inspections would be stepped up to punish unlicensed boat stations on rivers managed by central authorities.
Local authorities should also clear unlicensed stations, he said.
The delta has around 2,300 stations, 500 of them without licences or having expired ones, according to the administration. — VNS