Safety risk on Nghệ An waterways

Update: July, 19/2016 - 09:00
Passengers didn’t wear life jackets at the Cung wharf in Đô Lương District, central Nghệ An Province. — Photo

NGHỆ AN — Lack of means of transportation, inadequate infrastructure, weak management of local authorities and low awareness on waterway transport regulations of ship owners and passengers in the central province of Nghệ An are threatening the lives of hundred of passengers who travel on this mode of transportation every day.

As the biggest wharf in Đô Lương District, the Cung wharf accommodates dozens of vessels a day. However, most passengers aboard didn’t wear life jackets as regulated by the government, reported a Vietnam News Agency correspondent.

Lê Kim Lưu, from Thanh Chương District’s Phong Thịnh Commune, said he often traveled on this route but was rarely asked to wear a lifejacket.

Nguyễn Văn Long, a ship owner, blamed the hot weather for passengers not wearing them. Besides, some passengers were confident that they could swim so they wouldn’t drown, Long said.

Violations on waterway transport regulations were also reported at other wharves along the Lam River which pass through Thanh Chương, Đô Lương, Anh Sơn districts.

The violations involved many vehicles not meeting safety standards and boat captains were not qualified to operate the vehicles, lack of safety equipment as well as the price was not publicised for the public.

In addition, the infrastructure and signal systems at many wharves did not meet standards set by authorities.

Statistics from Nghệ An Province’s Transport Department inspectors showed that just 16 out of 25 wharves authorised by local districts have their licences.

Nguyễn Viết Hùng, an official from the provincial Department of Transport, said operations at many wharves in the province were at risk because many of them were operating illegally without meeting safety standards or being downgraded.

Only 70 vessels using these wharves have licences, he said.

To ensure the safety of passengers, the province’s Department of Transport has proposed that local authorities strengthen the supervision of wharves’ activities.

Accordingly, owners of wharves whose licences are still in effect, will have to repair their equipment to ensure that they are effective. Those with invalid licences will have to apply for a new one while upgrading their equipment, otherwise they will have to temporarily cease operations.

The provincial authority has asked localities to warn their vessels not to carry more than the number of passengers allowed.

Passengers aboard must always be outfitted with life jackets and drivers must have professional training and driving licences, said Võ Minh Đức, head of Traffic Safety Office of Nghệ An Province.

Local authorities must uphold their responsibilities for managing vehicles, drivers as well as wharves. The awareness of local residents on following waterway traffic regulation should be improved.  

Besides, it was necessary for localities to have detailed plans and call for investment in building bridges at places which have high demand for transportation, Đức said. — VNS