QUANG NGAI (VNS)— More than 40 boats are operating illegally and posing safety threats to commuters on the reservoir connected to the Dakdrinh Hydro Power Plan in central Quang Ngai Province.
Since the reservoir began storing water last September, residents in the province's Son Tay District and communes in the neighbouring province of Kon Tum, made the shift to travel via boat across the reservoir, after road routes flooded.
The boats are mostly homemade vessels or modified sea boats fashioned by local residents. The boats have not been registered with the authorities to verify their capacity and safety.
According to a Vietnam News Agency reporter, drivers had not obtained licences to operate the vessels and boats were not equipped with life jackets, posing a significant risk to commuters.
Dinh Van Dao, who owns four boats operating on the reservoir, said he had acquired the boats because of an increase in demand from people wanting to travel from Quang Ngai Province to neighbouring Kon Tum Province by water.
Travelling across the reservoir by boat had provided a fast and more convenient method than travelling by road, he said. He added that prices were only between VND25,000 –VND50,000 (US$1.1 – 2.2) for one person and VND50,000 – VND100,000 ($2.2-4.4) per motorbike.
According to Dao, his boat can carry up to 50 motorbikes and drivers at any given time.
Dinh Xuan Duong, a police officer in Tay Son District said plant operators had setup drift signals to prevent people wandering too close to the dam, but local residents had continued to drive boats there, Duong said.
He warned that deep water levels could pose a danger to people who couldn't swim.
In an effort to address safety concerns, police have tried to raise awareness about waterway regulations and provided life jackets for more than 20 boats.
Boat owners have also been urged to register their boats with the authorities, a request which has been ignored by many. — VNS