What have we done so far to address water safety despite the tragedies being repeated every year? The answer is: Absolutely nothing, because we are not bothered. I can’t think of a near-civilised country where any water transportation is allowed to operate without ensuring that every passenger has put on a lifejacket.
Before thinking of any other step, the authorities must immediately make it mandatory for every passenger to wear a lifejacket while on any form of water transport. The transport management should be responsible for making sure that no one, whether passenger or crew, is onboard without the lifejacket on, and a heavy fine must be paid in case of any violation.
Don’t give me the lame excuse that lifejackets are expensive. They don’t have to be the inflatable lifejackets with built-in signals and whistles that you see on airplanes. These can be bought from the scrapped ships from the ship-breaking yards for a throw-away price. Affordable lifejackets can also be produced with the locally available raw materials. If we can make branded t-shirts for a few cents, we can surely make these simple lifejackets for a few dollars or less. Then what is stopping us? The only solution I can think of is the authority’s commitment to saving lives by making lifejacket use mandatory.
Who is making sure that the vessels do not carry more passengers than allowed? Most of the water accidents here have happened because the boats were carrying many more passengers than was allowed. This is due to sheer negligence of the authorities concerned and the greed of the vessel owners.
After such accidents, while some of the owners are often quizzed or chased after, the authorities concerned always walk away as if it is none of their business. For every accident, the authorities responsible for ensuring a boat’s compliance with safety and fitness issues must be brought to justice for negligence of duty that resulted in the casualties.
I don’t understand why we are still allowing these unfit, outdated, and risky boats to carry passengers when our own ship-building companies are supplying quality and safe ships around the world. I would rather prefer some of our tax money to be spent on creating a fully-equipped and well-trained water rescue team among the coastguards or police than on expensive tours of officials.