Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Boat owners will have their boats seized if they operate them at the Hương Pagoda without having life jackets for passengers.
This was stated by Nguyễn Chí Thanh, head of the Hương Sơn Relic and Landscape Management Board.
The move is aimed at curbing the operation of overcrowded or unlicensed boats at the Hương Pagoda -- a complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines built into the limestone cliffs of the Hương Mountain in Hà Nội’s Mỹ Đức District.
Since the very first days of the Lunar New Year, people have been flocking to the Hương Pagoda Festival, which is considered the greatest Buddhist festival in the north of Việt Nam, playing an important role in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people, and Vietnamese Buddhists in particular.
The festival officially started last Thursday -- the sixth day of the first lunar month -- and will continue for three months.
Thanh told Giao thông (Transport) newspaper that over 3,500 boats were numbered and licensed to carry visitors to the Hương Pagoda this year. The rowboats were equipped with lifejackets. Boat fares and admission fees for sites were made public along with the hotline numbers to support and address visitors’ problems.
However, he admitted there were engine boats without licences offering to carry visitors or some rowboats which carried up to 30 people or more in a ride.
He said Hương Sơn Commune People’s Committee was responsible for licensing the boats operating during festival time and every local family could apply to join this transport service, making it difficult to manage.
As soon as the local media reported on the overcrowding, chaos, overcharging, and in particular on the unlicensed boats that carried people on Yến Spring that leads to major sites within the Hương Pagoda Complex, inland waterway officials and inspectors reached the site, calling for strong action to address the situation.
Deputy head of northern region’s Inland Waterway Division Phạm Minh Tuấn asked for measures to be implemented to control the boats before they departed to ensure safety of passengers.
Mỹ Đức District People’s Committee was asked to regulate clearly the number of passengers on each boat to ensure there were enough lifejackets and boats did not exceed their capacity.
The Việt Nam Inland Waterway Department under the Transport Ministry also asked for further control and overseeing at festivals which are held on rivers, such as boat racing and water/statue procession, or festivals during which people travel by boats. — VNS