A circular regulating that all passengers on boats or ferries must wear life jackets or life buoys during journeys has been released by the Ministry of Transport in an attempt to decrease the number of deaths resulting form inland waterway accidents.
HA NOI —
|People don life jackets on a ferry departing from Binh Loi Terminal in HCM City. Passengers on boats or ferries must wear life jackets during journeys under a circular from the Transport Ministry. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy |
The latest accident in which a bamboo boat capsized in central Nghe An Province's Hau River on Sunday killed one person and injured two others. The boat was not equipped with life jackets.
According to the Waterway Traffic Police Department, in the first five months of the year, over 30 inland waterway accidents killed more than 20 people, and in March alone, 13 people lost their lives.
Trinh Minh Hien, head of the ministry's Legislation Department, said the ministry had set out regulations on equipping boats and ferries with life jackets as well as the responsibilities of boat owners to minimise fatalities in inland waterway accidents.
She said it was an important issue because waterway traffic face various challenges with unsafe boats and ferries, low-skilled operators and a shortage of rescue equipment.
Under the circular, boat skippers will take legal responsibility for equipping their vessels with enough life jackets or life buoys for their passengers and instructing them on how to wear them in the correct manner.
Boat owners or skippers must refuse to carry passengers who do not agree to wear life jackets. If the owners fail to do this, they will have their licences revoked.
In the case of an accident where a passenger is killed or injured because they are not wearing a life jacket, owners will be prosecuted under criminal law.
The ministry will boost inspections of inland waterways to ensure the feasibility of the circular, which will take effect from July.
Nguyen Khoa, a lawyer from the Hai Phong Lawyers' Association said article 24 of the Law on Inland Waterway Traffic regulated the technical criteria for boats and ferries and the number of passengers each kind of boat could carry, but did not mention anything related to life jackets or buoys.
He said Government decree No.60/2011/ND-CP on administrative punishment methods on inland waterway traffic only stipulated a fine of between VND200,000-2 million ($9.5-95) for boats that were not equipped with rescue facilities or fire fighting equipment, so this circular was considered the first legal document to focus on the issue.
The Ministry of Education and Training has also set a target of introducing swimming lessons for primary school students in all cities and provinces by 2015. — VNS