Rampant violations among Vietnam tourism boats

TN News

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An inspection of tourist boast in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho last week found that several vessels were unlicensed, and didn't have enough life jackets.

The Transport Ministry on Tuesday (May 24) instructed provincial authorities to inspect tourism boats and suspend any vessels and ports that fail to meet safety standards.

The inspections were prompted by a tragic accident on the evening of May 20, which killed 16 people onboard a restaurant-style boat which capsized during high winds and heavy rains in Binh Duong Province's Saigon River.

In Ho Chi Minh City, a boat licensed to carry 350 passengers had only 210 life jackets, inspectors found. Inspectors also said that the boat was docked at an illegal place that had been previously deemed unsafe.

The joint team of inspectors, created from the municipal Transport Department, and Waterway Traffic Police, said three other boats, Ben Nghe, My Canh and Sai Gon, met safety requirements. However, many life jackets were tied to the vessel and safety instructions were only written in Vietnamese, through many of their customers are foreigners.

Inspector Tran Van Quy of the HCMC's Transport Department said they would inspect all 12 restaurant-style boats in the city before expanding the inspection to other passenger vessels.

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In Can Tho City, the municipal Waterway Traffic Police have issued fines against five tourism boats, including two carrying tourists from Tien Giang Province.

The three-story Can Tho boat with a capacity of 400 passengers was fined because many life jackets were in storage and not accessible to passengers.

Le Van Chien, the city chief of waterway traffic police, said some boats didn't have life jackets or a license, and didn't register tourists when they stayed on board overnight.

Eleven tourist agents in Can Tho are licensed to operate a total of 135 boats.

Earlier, two restaurant-boats were suspended, including the double-decker My Khanh restaurant vessel that sank in Phong Dien District on January 8. More than 200 passengers onboard managed to escape to safety.

Investigators said the passengers gathered to one side, leading water to spill to underwater air chambers. Inspectors said the boat had no license, no life jackets or fire extinguishers.

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