Ministry wants waterway tourism safety

The number of life jackets on tourist boats accommodating guests overnight must be twice the number of passengers on board, according to the draft of a circular to be issued by the Ministry of Transport.

The forthcoming regulation will require all passengers on board to be equipped with sufficient life jackets in the bedrooms, while the remainder must be available in dining, bar and working decks.

When coming out the rule will apply to all overnight tourist boats, and floating restaurants and hotels.

Under the draft, overnight tourist boats in lakes, rivers and coastal waters must be equipped with at least eight life-saving buoys, with each side of the boat having four.

Life saving equipment must be easily seen on board the boat and must have detailed instructions on them. If lifesaving jackets cannot be placed near passengers due to the vessel’s specifications, ship owners must increase the number of life saving appliances.

To ensure safety, exit doors must be always unlocked and available to passengers at all time and exit directions must be highlighted for them to recognize in case of emergency.

Owners must equip their ships and floating facilities with loudspeakers to announce emergency situations to each cabin. Announcements and directions must be in both Vietnamese and English.

The draft circular is an effort by authorities to improve waterway tourism safety after heart-rending accidents that killed scores last year. A ship sank while spending overnight in Halong Bay in the middle of 2011, killing 12 tourists, while Din Ky floating restaurant upturned in the Saigon River early last year with 16 killed.