Tougher safety standards for boat operators

Published: 01/06/2011 05:00



The Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism would work out a set
of standards for tour boats nationwide to ensure passenger safety, its deputy
director Hoang Thi Diep said at an online conference in Ha Noi yesterday, June 1.

High-speed hydrofoils carry passengers from HCM City to
central Vung Tau City. Local authorities around the country are planning to
introduce more stringent safety standards for boat operators after a spate
of recent fatal accidents.
(Photo: VNS)

The move follows recent accidents that led
to the deaths of dozens of people.

Diep, however, also said it was too early
to announce the new standards.

Representatives, including those from Da
Nang, Ha Noi and HCM City, agreed that poor management by various authorised
bodies was to blame for the accidents.

Another deputy director of the
administration Pham Minh Nghia said that many boats were registered as passenger
ferries, but in fact worked as tour boats.

It was also difficult to distinguish
between tour boats and passenger ferries because most also served as
restaurants, said Nghia.

Boat skipper and manager to be prosecuted

The provincial Unit for Investigative Police on Social
Criminals issued a prosecution order on Tuesday for the detainment of Le Van
Duc, captain of the boat that capsized on May 20 killing 16 people.

Duc, 24, from the southern province of Ben Tre, was
detained pending an investigation on charges of violating regulations on
controlling a means of waterway traffic and causing serious consequences, in
line with Article 212 of the Penal Code.

Boat manager, Lao Van Quang, 28, currently residing in
southern Binh Duong Province, was prosecuted on charges of assigning an
unqualified person to control a means of waterway traffic, in line with
Article 215 of the Penal Code.

Among the 16 people who died, four were Chinese nationals.
Their bodies are still being held at Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City following
a disagreement between the boat company and the victims’ next-of-kin.

The deceased’s families do not agree with the compensation
level being offered by the company, which it claimed would bear the shipping
costs of repatriating them, about US$7,000 – 8,000 each.

The company has asked relevant agencies to help explain
Vietnamese regulations regarding compensation payments for foreigners in the
event of death.

“We do not have specialised regulations to
issue permits so we cannot punish boat owners,” he said. To confuse matters, the
inland waterway traffic law regulates that passengers cannot walk on the top of
boats, but the tourist law says they can.

Tran Danh Thang, deputy director of the
Waterway Police said that there were no clear regulations regarding whether a
boat could stay out overnight, or for approving captains and chief mechanics.

Regulations are defined by provincial
authorities and they vary from province to province.

The Ministry of Transport launched a 10-day
inspection of tour boats today to check if they are equipped with life-jackets,
whether they are registered and captain’s certificates.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and
Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said that the ministry has asked city and provincial
authorities to monitor all waterway tourism enterprises, and focus on the safety
of boats and the availability of life-jackets.

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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