“Tour boats in Phuket take thousands of tourists out to sea every day. We have to do everything in our power to ensure that their passengers are safe,” said Phuket Marine Office Chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut.
“We will be randomly checking boats to make sure that they are seaworthy and are following our regulations.
“I have hired 15 staff who will be stationed at each pier on the island to ensure that every single passenger is wearing a life jacket. If they are not, the boat will not be allowed to leave the pier.”
The Marine Office and Marine Police will also be on the lookout for overloaded boats and intoxicated boat drivers, Mr Phuripat added.
Despite the tightened security and stricter rules, Mr Phuripat admitted that his officers can only do so much.
“One problem we have encountered is tourists who take off their life jackets after the boat departs. We have to leave that responsibility to the captain,” he said.
“We will, however, have officers on sea patrol. If any captain is caught with passengers not wearing life jackets, I will consider revoking his or her licence.”
Mr Phuripat urged boat operators to take passenger safety seriously.
“We can only do so much to patrol and ensure safety at sea. This responsibility falls mainly on the boat crews,” he said.
“We ask all tour boat operators to take care and prioritize the safety of their passengers.”
Last month, a speedboat driver crashed into a fishing trawler, killing two Koreans and injuring dozens of tourists (story here).
— Chutharat Plerin
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