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Hydrofoil route may resume operations

Update: August, 14/2014 - 08:16
A hydrofoil operating on the HCM City-Vung Tau Route. The service is likely to resume after more than six months it was suspended due to safety reasons. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan

HCM CITY (VNS) — Hydrofoils used on the HCM City-Vung Tau route are slated to resume service after an over six-month suspension due to safety issues.

The resumption of service, however, will depend on another round of inspections by the Ministry of Transport.

"The resumption will depend on repair work and registrations that help ensure that hydrofoils will ensure safe services," said Nguyen Van Thuan, head of the Safety Transportation Department, at a meeting in HCM City on Monday.

Operators have been ordered to make all repairs and equip their hydrofoils with more fire-fighting devices.

Thuan said the hydrofoils would resume service if they passed inspection.

Bui Cong Trung, chairman of Vina Express, said the hydrofoil operator had paid over VND200 million (US$9,400) per month in salary for the company's staff, and VND200 million in docking, office and maintenance costs because of the prolonged service suspensions.

Three companies provide hydrofoil services on the HCM City-Vung Tau route, including Vina Express, Greenlines and Petro Express, with more than 20 hydrofoils.

Most of the hydrofoils are old and were imported from Russia and Eastern Europe. Some boats have been used for over 20 years.

After a hydrofoil carrying more than 90 people from HCM City to Ba Ria-Vung Tau caught fire on the Sai Gon River on January 20, the chairman of HCM City People's Committee Le Hoang Quan decided to suspend all hydrofoils on the route for quality inspections.

He also asked the local police to investigate the hydrofoil fire and the Ministry of Transport to clarify responsibilities of the vehicle registration agency. — VNS

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