01 July 2020
The Inland Water Transport is placing emphasis on the safety of the passengers as a priority during the rainy season as the water transport is one of the important sectors.
In the water transport sector, river crossing ships known as ferries are providing water transport services while sampans are transporting the passengers crossing the river to and from the banks of the river. During the rainy season, there may be frequent occurrences of strong winds and torrential rains in Yangon River and so the IWT is laying emphasis on the safety of the passengers as a priority after setting up the plan.
Daw Khin Khin Nu, manager of Pansodan Jetty of the IWT, said, “We are now emphasizing increased income and the safety of the passengers. When there are heavy rains and strong winds, we have to reduce the runs of the ferries. If there is poor visibility, the ferries are not allowed leaving the jetty. The reduction in the income and ferry runs doesn’t matter, but the safety of the passenger is our first priority. When the heavy rain and strong winds occur, the passengers can scramble aboard the ferry. When the passengers gather at one side of the ferry, it can lean to other side. For this we are educating the passengers how to take the ferry. Life jackets are placed in the easy reaches of the passengers. There are about 20,000 passengers a day. This number is still less compared with the figure before the COVID-19.”
The passengers to Pansodan-Dala ferry are on the increase now. Before the COVID-19, there were about 30,000 passengers a day. In a little while, the number of passengers will be back to normal figure.
U Myint Aye, Captain of Cherry Ferry 1 of the IWT, said, “For ensuring the safety of the passengers during the rainy season, we have arranged for 56 life rafts placed on the roof of the ferry and 1200 life jackets. These materials come from Japan. We are telling the passengers with the use of loudspeakers not to get off the ferry before it stops and to get on the ferry only after wearing the masks. We have to pay attention to the weather condition and maintain the ferry as well. One ferry run has to carry 450 to 500 passengers. The safety of the passengers is of great importance. The life jackets are the double number of the passengers. Life-saving materials are also placed aboard the ferry. The crews of the ferry must be always active and they mustn’t be sleepy. Social distancing guidance is also well prepared.”
One ferry has to provide 46 runs a day and two ferries run a day. During Thingyan period, there were 300 to 500 passengers. After Thingyan, the number of passenger rose to more than 5,000. In May there were about 8,000 and early June there were between 12,000 and 15,000. At the end of June, the number has gone up nearly 20,000.
Ko Myo Thant, in-charge of Sampan Gate, Supervisory Committee for Tanlayet Sampan Gate, said, “We don’t allow the sampans to run when the heavy rain and strong wind take place. We allow the sampans to run only when the weather is fine. The fitness of the sampans is always checked and the sampan workers are also supervised. In the past, a sampan carried 10 passengers, but now it transports only seven. The sampan ticket price is not increased and a passenger costs 200 kyats. The chartered price for a sampan is 1,500 kyats. There are a total of 46 sampans in this gate. The number of passengers currently becomes more.”
Ko Pyae Sone, a passenger from Ahlon Township, said, “We are taking the ferry with my friends to go to Twantay. In the past, we were afraid of the water transport. But now we don’t need to be frightened because the ferry prepares for life-saving materials including life jackets. We really feel secure when we take the ferry. The crews of the ferry warn the passengers with the use of loudspeakers to be careful about the get-on and get-off the ferry while rain is showering. We thank the responsible persons of the ferry for providing proper management for the passengers.”
Now is the time that can limit the spread of the COVID-19 infection, but it can’t be totally kept control. The respective government departments are carrying out anti-COVID-19 measures. The responsible persons are warning the people to follow health guidelines issued by the ministry concerned. The IWT is providing water transport service for ensuring that the passengers reach the downtown Yangon in a short time upholding the preventive measures against the COVID-19.