Boosting safety of ferry passengers

ST 20161222 JASAFETY22 2823798 Boosting safety of ferry passengers   Bintan Ferry

ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN Captain Shawn Ho, 29, briefing Batam Fast crew members yesterday on safety procedures when handling their vessels. 

With more passengers taking ferries to places like Bintan and Batam in Indonesia during the year-end and school holiday season, the authorities are taking measures to ensure their safety.

Yesterday, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) held safety briefings for ferry captains and crew.

“It’s a good time to tell them, ‘Look, be careful, be vigilant’,” said Captain Daknash Ganasen, director of MPA’s operations division.

Capt Daknash, who is also MPA’s port master, said these briefings are usually held quarterly. But the MPA decided to conduct extra briefings in December this year, for the first time, as it was an “apt time”.

This is because ridership is highest during festive weekends, like the upcoming one for Christmas.

Ridership goes up by 10 per cent to as high as 16,000 passengers daily during festive weekends.

MPA’s safety briefings cover topics like avoiding collisions, keeping to speed limits and ensuring that aisles are kept free.

When The Straits Times sat in on a briefing yesterday, seafarers from ferry companies were reminded to follow international regulations like passing other vessels at a safe distance, and stopping – if required – to avoid collisions.

Several briefing sessions were held at the HarbourFront Centre ferry terminal.

The briefings started in 2014, in the aftermath of three collisions in Singapore waters, on Jan 29 and 30, and Feb 10 that year. All three incidents resulted in damaged bunker tanks.

Capt Daknash said: “We knew we had to inculcate a culture of safety. We wanted them to keep the awareness of safety fresh in their minds. It’s good to give such refreshers.”

He added that many collisions occur because of a lack of situational awareness.

Such briefings have paid off, according to him.

MPA registered the lowest incident rate this year, he said. The authority did not give figures.

Mr Gunawan, a captain from ferry operator Batam Fast who attended a briefing yesterday, said it is good that MPA and ferry operators are cooperating on safety.

The 28-year-old, who goes by only one name, said: “In December, the weather is not so good. There’s also more passenger movement. So we have to be more careful.”

Source The Straits Times