Rule enforcement to be strengthened

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am

The Marine Department and police are staging a joint safety campaign in Victoria Harbour.

Senior marine officer Tsang Cheuk-yin said the campaign, which was aimed at improving navigation safety, particularly in the harbour's central fairway, would strengthen enforcement of the rule of the road.

'A marine safety campaign before the arrival of the foggy weather serves as a reminder to masters, coxswains and persons in charge of vessels of the importance of strictly following the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (Colreg), especially while they transit Victoria Harbour,' Mr Tsang said.

The central harbour, through which the central fairway runs, is one of the busiest stretches of water in Hong Kong. About 4,200 vessels pass through the area daily.

The campaign is being carried out in two phases.

The first phase, which ends today, has concentrated on education activities while the second, between March 3 and 7, will concentrate on enforcement action against vessel operators who defy navigational safety rules.

The assistant divisional commander (operations) of the marine police harbour division, A. M. Steeple, said seven Marine Department and police launches had been distributing pamphlets to vessel operators.

'The launches will issue warnings to vessel operators who fail to observe the rule of the road,' Mr Steeple said.

Although marine accidents in the central fairway remained low, at seven in 1995 and five last year, there was no room for complacency, he said. Vessel operators who contravened Colreg would face fines of up to $25,000.

Mr Tsang advised masters, coxswains and persons in charge of vessels to: Maintain constant and proper vigilance by sight and hearing as well as by all available means to determine whether there is a risk of collision; Proceed at a safe speed appropriate to the circumstances and not exceed the maximum permitted speed; Keep out of marine works areas; Keep the Tsim Sha Tsui light buoy on the port side when proceeding along the Hunghom fairway; and Use proper sound signals whenever required to do so.

Vessels involved in towing should ensure that the tow line does not exceed the length of the vessel being towed, or 21/2 times the length of the towing vessel, whichever is greater. Only in emergencies should a tow line be longer than 100 metres.

LOOK OUT Central fairway to be main target Operators face fines up to $25,000