Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - Ho Chi Minh City's authorities are set to step up oversight of inland waterway transport to ensure safety and smoother movement of goods and passengers.

The HCM City Waterway Traffic Police will crack down on unregistered vessels, overloaded ones and those that do not comply with technical safety specifications. Skippers without proper qualifications will be fined.

Inspections will focus on vessels transporting building materials like sand and gravel and encroachment of banks on both sides, which used to be vacant to serve during times of emergencies on the water.

The traffic police will collaborate with local authorities to regularly conduct training courses on waterway traffic laws and analyse the main causes of accidents. The city's transport inspectors are collaborating with relevant authorities to review accident-prone places.

In Binh Chanh district, the Urban Management Sub-department will cooperate with the natural resources and environment and transport departments to shut down illegal wharfs and other works on rivers which threaten the safety of inland waterway transport. It will also urge relevant authorities not to issue or extend licences for storage facilities on rivers and canals and along their banks.

Most vessel owners and skippers lack awareness of waterway traffic safety. Thus, overloaded barges and ships and passengers without lifebuoys are a common sight in the city’s rivers and canals. Many vessels have been found not meeting safety standards and captains lacking the qualifications to pilot their vessels.

Illegal encroachment of banks by houses and storage facilities is very common in districts 7, 8, 9, Thu Duc, Can Gio, Nha Be, and Binh Chanh. In Binh Chanh alone there are 10 illegal wharfs on the Can Giuoc and Cho Dem rivers and the Ngang, Xang – An Ha Canal.

They have existed for many years and been fined multiple times but they stubbornly remain in place. Such illegal constructions in waterway transport corridors and illegal sand and soil mining, which have changed the water course and eroded riverbanks in many places, are major factors in the increasing number of accidents.

Plans have been unveiled to improve transportation in the city’s 975km of riverways. During the last decade the city has focused on land transport to tackle traffic congestion, especially at its gates and near ports. From now through 2020 the city plans to mobilise investment from the private sector in waterway transport infrastructure.-VNA