• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 5:00am
Lamma ferry disaster

New era of marine safety needed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 3:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 6:51am

The Marine Department is facing a rough time in the wake of the Lamma ferry tragedy.

There is no doubt lessons are learned, procedures are tightened, and rightfully demands for more resources are formulated.

However, all those professionally involved in safety know that no matter how strictly one regulates or polices a process, a safe operation can be achieved only when the participants in this process exercise a high level of safety awareness. Safety comes from within, not from the outside.

So unless the owners of vessels and their crew start thinking differently, not much will change. And here we have a lot of mileage to cover.

How many owners of local crafts intended for carrying passengers make sure, or even are aware, of damage stability criteria and conformity of the vessel with its plans?

How many have ever thought about doing a voluntary evacuation drill?

Why do we hear so many operators now complaining that encouraging safer operations, say by having more staff for look-out or the fitting of an automatic identification system, makes the operation commercially unviable?

Are we a society that cannot afford safety? I thought we were way beyond that.

Let there be stricter regulations, taking unsafe operators/unfair competition out of the market.

This will make room for safe operators, allowing them a proper return on their investment.

We as a society need to climb up the ladder that will lead us to a safety-conscious environment, and just blaming the regulator will simply not work. We need the regulator's help, but beyond that it's really up to us.

It may take a bit longer and cost a bit more to, for example, get to Lamma, but as they say if you can't afford safety, wait till you see the cost of an accident. Unfortunately we know that now.

So please let this loss of life at least have started a new era of a safety-first thinking in our local ferry services, on the part of owners, operators and users.

P. Cremers, Tsim Sha Tsui


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This article is now closed to comments

Only a few weeks ago I travelled on a public ferry and discovered that two out of the four seatbelts in my row had been incorrectly assembled so that when worn, they would not restrain the wearer in any way in a collision. I photographed them and reassembled them and then reported the matter to the Marine Department who followed up with an inspection. However, I was left disatified. Why is it that time and again members of the public have to report such matters which should be discovered by officials?
Sorry, Captam, but which democracy is this?
It's just a typical response when people are faced with new responsibilities - try asking to do anti-money laundering due diligence into clients when they didn't used to have to do any.
Its the " It may ...cost a bit more " which is the stumbling block. Grandstanding politicians responding to their voters' wishes always try to block the fare rises necessary to allow the higher standards.
This is another of the so-called 'benefits' of democracy. What should be done is blocked responses to populism.


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