Seven months ago a fire broke out on the Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City hydrofoil. The eighty five passengers on board had to escape by wading waist deep in the water to get to the safety of land. The craft was totally destroyed and as a result all hydrofoil operations were suspended pending a safety enquiry.
Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang has instructed the relevant agencies to begin re-licensing hydrofoils on the HCM City-Vung Tau route, providing they meet safety standards. Nguyen Van Thuan, head of the Safety Transportation Department, at a meeting in HCM City on Monday, “The resumption will depend on repair work and registrations that help ensure that hydrofoils will ensure safe services.”
Operators have had enforced safety measures added to their required operating standards. More fire fighting equipment has to be added and more modern safety equipment fitted. Once operations begin, surprise inspections will take place.
Vina Express one of the main operators claims that it has paid over VND200 million (US$9,400) per month, in company and VND200 million in docking fees, office and maintenance costs, due to the prolonged suspension of services.