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Waterway accidents could rise

Update: September, 12/2016 - 09:00
Ghềnh Bridge spanning Đồng Nai River collapsed when a barge crashed into it in March.Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY – Waterway accidents have been increasing with great losses to human life and property because ship owners and crew aren’t following safety regulations.

For the first eight months of this year, there were nearly 100 waterway accidents, with 24 in HCM City. Three of them - including barges crashing and collapsing Ghềnh bridge in the southern province of Đồng Nai and the Rạch Đỉa Bridge in HCM City and a tourism boat sinking in the Hàn River in the central city of Đà Nẵng - were considered very severe with three deaths and losses of several tens of millions of US dollars. 

“The main reason for the alarming situation is ship owners and crew ignoring waterway safety regulations,” Major General Nguyễn Quốc Diệp, deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security’s Transport Police Department, was quoted as saying in the Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper.

He pointed out that ineffective education about waterway safety regulations in many localities along with loosened State management, patrols, fines and violation protection led the situation.

“To reduce waterway accidents, localities and related authorities must suffer strict fines if accidents happen in their areas,” Diệp suggested.

He also requested that relevant ministries and provinces which have busy waterways should review their waterway transport system and repair all failures and breaks.

“Waterway transport infrastructure in HCM City is very limited and it is also known as an indirect reason for the increase in accidents,” Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Hữu Thông, deputy head of the HCM City Police’s Waterway Transport Police sub-department said.

To cope with the situation, the HCM City People’s Committee has instructed the Transport Department, Police and districts to implement the necessary works in order to reduce waterway accidents.

“The Transport Department should have a notice board for dangerous areas, domestic waterway port authorities must tighten their checks for boat safety while waterway transport police should increase patrols in rivers and canals,” he added.

At present, in HCM City’s domestic waterway routes like the rivers of Sài Gòn (Củ Chi to Bình Thạnh districts), Soài Rạp (Cần Giờ District), Cần Giuộc (Bình Chánh District) and Rạch Đỉa (Nhà Bè District), there are many overloaded barges and high-capacity boats circulating.

“Many of them ignore our warnings about the fact that they would hit bridges when the tide rises,” Nguyễn Tiến Tính, a staff member at Rạch Đỉa Bridge said.

He mentioned that such violation often happened on the river but waterway transport police and transport inspectors did not fine the violators.

At 34 small ferry ports in HCM City, most passengers do not wear life-jackets while such ferries are often overcrowded.

For the first half of this year, relevant authorities have discovered and fined 420 infractions of waterway safety regulations, including: fire fighting equipment, not enough crew members, or lack of licences, and no safety check verification.

Furthermore, four dredging works in the Đồng Nai and Sài Gòn rivers also cause worries because they might take more sand than needed to sell, and it would change river flow and cause accident for boats and barges passing by. — VNS

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