Regional passenger ferries to get better lifejackets

MPA will contribute $800,000 to co-fund upgrading of lifesaving equipment on its licensed regional passenger ferries

Regional passenger ferries will be equipped with new easier-to-use buckle-type lifejackets, under a push by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to enhance passenger safety.

The authority announced yesterday it would commit about $800,000 to co-fund the upgrading of lifesaving equipment on MPA- licensed regional passenger ferries.

The ferries will also have customised lifejacket receptacles fitted under the seats to protect these jackets and allow easier passenger access.

"As part of MPA's commitment to safety excellence, we will be supporting regional ferry operators to upgrade critical lifesaving equipment on board," MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said at the launch of International Safety@Sea Week 2018 at Marina South Pier.

All MPA-licensed regional passenger ferries will be required to install the new equipment by the end of next year. There are currently 58 of these passenger ferries run by eight different operators.

In his speech, Mr Tan noted that more than 6.5 million passengers travel via MPA-licensed ferries between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia every year.


He said the new buckle-type lifejackets are easier to use and have additional safety features.

MPA said feasibility studies on the lifejacket receptacles and buckle-type lifejackets, which replace string-type ones, have started on nine ferries.

The jackets have already been installed on ocean-going ferries.

Mr Sebastian Koh, president of the Association of Regional Ferry Operators, said some ferry companies are still using string-type lifejackets but these are compliant with Solas (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements.

"The new lifejacket is similar to what you have on an aircraft," he said.

"It is easy to wear and has a buckle, so people do not have to struggle to tie the string."

Yesterday, Mr Tan also announced that MPA would be using Geo-Targeted Text Messages, or GeoSMSes, to broadcast safety messages to seafarers at different locations in the Port of Singapore.

These include routine safety messages and special safety reminders during periods such as festive seasons.

Said Mr Tan: "Marine incidents have decreased by more than 40 per cent between 2008 to 2017.

"In particular, the major incident rate has dropped by 70 per cent from 0.010 to 0.003 incidents per 1,000 vessel movements in the same period.

"While this is a significant achievement, there is no room for complacency and we must maintain our safety efforts."