Vietnam bans construction of unsafe wooden tourist boats

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Building new wooden tour boats equipped with sleeping cabins will be forbidden starting from May 1, 2013 in an effort to ensure tourists’ safety after some boat sinking accidents in 2011.

Circular 43/2012/TT-BGTVT of the Ministry of Transport specifies boats providing tourists with overnight stays, along with floating hotels and restaurants, must be built of qualified steel, aluminum, glass-fiber reinforced plastic, reinforced cement or reinforced concrete.

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Starting from May 1, 2013, owners will not be allowed to build new wooden tourist boats or transform wooden boats originally used for other purposes into tourist boats with sleeping cabins, says the circular issued last Friday.

The number of life jackets on such boats must be twice the number of passengers on board, with half of them available in bedrooms and the remainder in dinning, bar and working decks.

Moreover, additional life jackets for children equal to 10% of the passenger number must be equipped.

Each boat must have at least eight lifebuoys, four of which have connecting lines, placed on the boat sides. Lifesaving equipment must be sufficient for all people on board.

Similarly, floating hotels and restaurants must have life jackets available for all guests. The number of life jackets for children is 30% of the guest number.

Each of these floating facilities needs to have at least eight lifebuoys. Each cabin must have an automatic water level indicator, which will give sound and light alarms when the water level at the deck reaches 300 millimeters under all circumstances.

In addition, the circular stipulates that overnight tourist boats, floating hotels and floating restaurants must have equipment to prevent pollution caused by oil and wastewater.

As for overnight tourist boats and floating tourist facilities built before the effective day of the circular, owners have to renew equipment to meet the provisions of the circular.

Several dreadful boat accidents took place in 2011, including the sinking of a tourist boat in Halong Bay that killed 12 passengers, and that of Din Ky floating restaurant in Binh Duong leaving 16 dead.

At present, most overnight tourist boats are made of wood. In Halong Bay, Quang Ninh, there are 500 tourist boats, with 150 boats allowing tourists to stay overnight, most of which are made of wood.