|People search for victims of a boat accident on February 25 in the Vu Gia River in the central province of Quảng Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The number of deaths due to inland waterway traffic accidents in the first half of this year nearly doubled the figure of the same period last year.
According to the National Committee for Traffic Safety, between December 15, 2019, and June 14, 2020, 38 inland waterway accidents were reported, leading to 33 deaths with nine other people injured.
Compared with the same period last year, the number of accidents, fatalities and injuries increased by 13 cases, 17 deaths and one injured victim, respectively.
“The situation of inland waterway traffic got worse, reaching an alarming level,” said the committee.
According to the committee’s data, deadly inland waterway accidents usually happened with households’ vessels.
For example, a boat overturned on the Trà Lý River in the northern province of Thái Bình on January 6, killing two people.
On February 15, three people died when their boat overturned on the La Ma River in the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế. When the accident happened, 12 people were on board.
On February 25, six people died due to another overturned boat on the Vu Gia River in the central province of Quảng Nam.
According to reports by local authorities, a major cause of the accidents is substandard boats that don't meet technical requirements and are unregistered.
People used self-made vehicles to travel and carry goods, often without life jackets or other safety equipment.
Transport expert Nguyễn Văn Thanh, former chairman of the Việt Nam Automobile Transport Association, said overloading, overcrowding, lack of safety equipment were major causes of inland waterway accidents.
“Insufficient communication and punishments for violations that are not strict enough to be a deterrent are at the root of the accidents,” Thanh said.
“It’s time to deploy stricter punishments and increase public understanding about the issue,” he said.
The National Committee for Traffic Safety has asked its branches in localities to tighten inspections and crack down on violations.
Violations relating to the volume of goods, the number of passengers or the absence of safety equipment on vehicles will be punished strictly.
The committee will also speed up a campaign on developing a traffic culture for safe waterways.
In contrast to inland waterway traffic, roads and railways saw a drop of accident cases, fatalities and injuries in the first half of this year, largely due to social distancing measures reducing traffic.
Accordingly, as many as 3,775 road accidents were reported, killing 3,165 people and injuring 1,918 others. Compared with those of the same period of last year, the cases reduced by 523, the number of deaths reduced by 573 and the number of injured victims reduced by 371.
On railways, the number of accidents was 44, the fatalities 37 and the injuries nine in the last six months. Compared with the same period of last year, the number of accidents, fatalities and injuries reduced by 31, 16 and 21 respectively. — VNS