A boat that sank off Can Gio beach due to overloading and lack of life-jackets for all passengers, left nine people dead, and raised awareness of alarmingly unsafe conditions on boats and ferries across the country.
|No passenger was seen wearing a life-jacket on An Phu Dong Ferry (Photo: SGGP)|
According to a directive issued by the Ministry of Transport, boatmen and passengers are required to wear a lifejacket while crossing any river.
However, thousands of people in Ho Chi Minh City continue to cross rivers on overloaded and unsafe boats and neither the boatmen nor the passengers wear lifejackets.
Most of the passengers on Binh Quoi Ferry connecting Binh Thanh and Thu Duc Districts were seen without lifejackets, even though a sign on the boat read ‘As per Ministry of Transport regulations, wearing of lifejackets is mandatory’.
Ferry employees do not even ask passengers to wear lifejackets.
Similarly, the An Phu Dong Ferry connecting District 12 and Go Vap District, had life-jackets, lifeboats and lifebuoys hanging on the railing in poor state of disrepair under the sun and rain. Passenger Nguyen Hung Van from District 12 said to wear a life-jacket is too hot and uncomfortable, besides it only takes a few minutes to cross the river.
Added to this, most boatmen carry more than the allowed number of 30 passengers plus luggage. For instance, a ferry connecting District 12 and Go Vap District was on August 6 seen carrying nearly 60 passengers and motorbikes while as per rule, this ferry can only carry 30-48 passengers.
The situation is similar on ferries along rivers in Districts 8, 2, Nha Be and Go Vap.
According to the Department of River Traffic Management, there were 118 ferry accidents last year in which 108 people were killed, and 12 got injured due to overloading on boats and ferries and being denied protective wear.
Most tragedies start from ferries disregarding safety regulations. Authorities thus need to educate people about life-jackets and issue harsh penalties on violating ferries.