Passenger port authorities have confirmed an alarming situation in which the hydrofoils plying the route between Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau fail to meet minimum safety standards, and many accidents have occurred as a result.
The conclusion was announced at a Wednesday meeting in Vung Tau with the participation of port authorities from Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City, representatives of the hydrofoil transport firms, and relevant units.
A recent inspection by the Vung Tau Port Authority showed that many hydrofoils failed to meet minimum safety standards. Shortcomings include on-board staff who don’t know how to wear life jackets and use fire extinguishers; unworkable anchors and communication devices; and windows in the passenger compartment breaking.
According to an initial survey by the Vung Tau Port Authority, since 2007 hydrofoils on the HCMC – Vung Tau route have had regular technical troubles. In 2012 six cases of collisions or engine breakdowns have been recorded.
The Greenlines firm has had the most problems.
It’s unacceptable to skip the minimum safety requirements, said Vung Tau Port Authority deputy director Le Van Thuc.
Le Van Chien, director of the Vung Tau Port Authority, confirmed that the situation is alarming and is a concern among passengers. In a serious recent incident, a distressed hydrofoil was ignored and refused help by another vessel from a rival firm.
In September last year, a Vina Express hydrofoil crashed and killed a fisherman.
Most of the problems caused by the hydrofoils have not been reported by captains or owners. Relevant authorities learn of the incidents via newspapers or other sources, said Nguyen Thien Hai, a member of the inland waterway unit of the HCMC Port Authority.
At the meeting, owners of hydrofoil firms were requested to correct their mistakes. In addition, emergency phone numbers of port authorities, waterway traffic police, and rescue centers must be posted in the passenger compartment of each boat.
An owner of a shipping liner who spoke on condition of anonymity admitted that many hydrofoils were bought from Russia two decades ago, and some were manufactured in the 1980s.