….Oh well, trying to get this thing back up and running…again!
I’ve been following the Lamma Ferry fiasco with mouth agape, and thinly veiled smug satisfaction. I used to live on Lamma. I always stayed alert to what was happening on the ferry, as I never trusted these guys. As a rule public transport in Hong Kong is excellent, especially the MTR, which although one could take issue with its overall mission, the trains, which are its primary function, are excellent. Buses again, are inexpensive, frequent, and generally punctual, the only occasional problem being a bus driver who is a former taxi driver, but more on taxi’s later. When I say buses, I do not include mini buses, regardless of their hue! These mini buses are weapons of destruction, generally under the control of a tattooed fuckwit. Green is better than red, but alive is better than dead and neither colour does much to inspire confidence.
Taxi drivers, are, with a very few noticeable exceptions, abysmal drivers, who are generally ignorant of the back seat occupants discomfort. Taxi drivers in HK seem to have developed a twitch on their accelerator foot which leads to the passenger resembling a mental patient lolling back and forth in despair. An 80 year old died last year whilst waiting on a fare, the cry from taxi drivers was this would become more common if the idling engine law was passed! Bullshit, ‘cos no one pays any attention to that law, but more importantly, WTF is an 80 year old doing driving a taxi?
And so to the Ferry’s. Ok we don’t have the overcrowding like the Phillipinnes, but believe me, most ferries in HK are accidents waiting to happen, crew are poorly trained, vessels are poorly maintained. seamanship knowledge is generally absent and in an accident, don’t look to the staff for guidance. But, that is not the main issue, it’s the failure to ensure the seaworthiness of the vessels that is the main issue.
Here a just a few details emerging from the recent tragedy. The plating on the sunken vessel was thinner than was stated in the plans. A bulkhead door shown on the plans was never fitted. Seats were fixed to plywood with very little to keep them secure. Not enough life jackets, none for children. No evacuation planning prior to sailing. Neither Captain followed the rules of the sea and turned to starboard, a universal collision avoidance measure at sea.
I’m sure there will be more, much more to come out of this event, and I’m pretty sure one of the Captains is going to jail, but I doubt very much whether the culture of indifference that masks a hidebound bureaucracy will ever change, I fear it’s cultural.