Seoul will implement countermeasures to ensure ferry safety as thousands of South Koreans are expected to sail to the country’s various resort islands for the summer break.
From 24 July to 9 August, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries will mobilise 156 ferries for a special transportation service catering to holidaymakers. Another 16 ferries will be put on standby.
It is estimated that 1.2 million holidaymakers, or a daily average of 70,000 holidaymakers, will take ferries to islands like Jeju, Jindo, and Namisum throughout the period.
The ministry estimates that 799 to 994 ferry rides will be made during the period, translating into a daily average of 195 ferry rides during the summer holiday season.
South Korea has seen a renewed emphasis on ferry safety after Sewol capsized during a routine Incheon-Jeju trip on 16 April 2014, leaving 304 of 476 passengers and crew dead or missing.
Sewol was habitually overloaded and capsized after a crew member made a sudden and sharp turn while steering the vessel.
Seaborne passenger arrivals in South Korea also took a hit after the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in June, prompting the government to act to restore visitor arrivals and renew faith in the country’s domestic ferry sector.
In light of what happened, the ministry said it will work hard to remove South Koreans’ misgivings towards the domestic passenger shipping sector.
In addition to make things easier for ferry passengers, the purchase of car park space in ferry terminals, ferry tickets, and information about voyage status and departure timings, can all be swiftly provided via a text messaging service, even in times of emergency.
To prevent the ferries from being overloaded, the loading and lashing of cargoes will also be supervised.
This initiative is a joint effort by the ministry’s maritime safety superintendents, vessel safety operators, and coast guards to check safety standards of domestic ferry operators, following the completion of safety inspections of such ferries on 12 July.
The ministry said, “We will do our best to ensure that Koreans taking ferries will return safely from their summer holidays.”