Updated May. 09, 2014 04:52
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries plans to introduce ferry safety officers who would be in charge of safety on coastal ferries a system modeled after flight safety officers on airliners.
"In consideration of the public opinion that safety experts are necessary on ferries following the disaster of ferry Sewol, we plan to hire experienced mates or engineers on contract positions and appoint them as ferry safety supervisors who would be in charge of checking the safety of ferries," a ministry official said Thursday. The ministry plans to directly hire 10 to 20 ferry safety supervisors.
Under the new system, operation managers who would be separated from the Korea Shipping Association will conduct the primary safety inspections on ferries, while the ministry`s ferry safety supervisors will carry out secondary examinations randomly. Freighters will be inspected by maritime safety officials to be hired this year under a revised maritime safety law.
Experts say that the ministry should hire top-notch private-sector experts and offer decent compensations for conducting safety checks on ferries. Following the 1997 crash of a Korean Air flight in Guam, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport accepted the International Civil Aviation Organization`s recommendation and introduced flight safety supervisors in 1999. Currently, 18 flight safety supervisors conduct nearly 2,000 safety checks annually on airliners` control, maintenance and flight management.
Still, some critics suspect that the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries plans to open the new positions in an attempt to provide jobs for officials retiring from the ministry. A ministry official countered that ferry safety supervisor positions are created separately because public officials are not capable of checking shipping companies` operational practices.