Following two deadly and harrowing incidents involving inland navigation vessels in Russia and Indonesia in recent weeks that have claimed the lives of almost 200 people, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has expressed its deep concern regarding the industry’s procedural and safety compliance, noting that these accidents could have been prevented.
In the first accident, a catamaran, carrying passengers over its capacity, capsized in the Volga River after colliding with another boat, killing 11 people. Russia’s Investigative Committee said the boat’s captain, who was also the owner of the vessel, was drunk and likely to blame for the crash.
The second incident involved the capsizing of a ferry carrying three times its passenger capacity on Lake Toba, Indonesia, leaving over 190 people dead or missing. The vessel was reportedly operating illegally with no manifest.
“Two tragedies, but with common causes”, the ITF notes:
– A lack of control and enforcement.
– A lack of international enforceable standards.
A lack of safety awareness.
Nick Bramley, chair of the ITF inland navigation section, commented:
“These are further tragedies that could have been avoided, but sadly they won’t be the last ones unless something is done to deal with the root cause of this carnage. For far too many times in recent years we have had to read of death and suffering in incidents that claims the lives of workers and passengers in the name of profit. It is sad that no lessons have been learnt from the increasing number of accidents that regularly occur in many parts of the world on ferries and excursion vessels”.
The ITF is calling for a robust culture of safety established on the basis of:
– Competency oriented training and certification for crew members.
– Systematic enforcement of regulations regarding safety, security and passenger rights.
– Licencing schemes for vessels engaged in passenger transport.
ITF is repeating its call for ILO and other international maritime bodies and authorities to take steps to move towards a modern set of standards for the inland navigation industry.