At a conference on inland ship insurance, recently held in Can Tho City, Nguyen Anh Thang, Deputy Head of Waterway Police Traffic Department under the Ministry of Public Security, said that Vietnam witnesses around 150-200 waterway accidents annually with roughly 300 deaths. The figure is much lower than that of road traffic accidents, which are cause to 30 fatalities per day.
He added, however, that waterway accidents often cause more serious destruction, citing the shipwreck in Ha Long Bay in February 2011 that killed 12, as well as the Din Ky tourist boat tragedy in Binh Duong Province, which left 16 dead.
Senior lieutenant-colonel Vo Viet Hung, Deputy Head of Kien Giang Province’s Waterway Traffic Police Department, said the province saw nine waterway accidents related deaths in 2011. So far this year they have caused seven fatalities.
Many vessels operate at night without signal lamps or do not run along their charted routes. About to 90% of the accidents happen at night.
Meanwhile, many ship owners do not buy little or no insurance of civil liabilities. In cases of accidents, these companies would have to use their own money to deal with the consequences.
In August 2011, ship Long Phu 8 had to compensate over VND9.4 billion (USD447,619) for rice barge DT12556 in August 2011, meanwhile, the barge had to spend its own money of VND3.4 billion to deal with the consequences..
In March 2012, ship EasternSun had to pay over VND1.1 billion (USD52,380) for barge HP2868, and the barge also suffered from the loss of VND8.1 billion (USD385,714)
Many ship owners do not check whether or not high-value cargo they transport is insured or not, so often are left liable for losses.
In the Mekong Delta region, transport of passengers and cargo by waterway accounts for most traffic (70%), making waterway management is very difficult.
According to Colonel Nguyen Anh Thang, it is necessary to raise awareness of waterway accidents and their serious consequences. He added that enforcement must be a priority.