In apparent response to the outcry of the signifcant cut in the numbers lifeguards on Barbados’ beaches, the National Conservation Commission (NCC) has dared to declare and sought to assure us all yet that we can go sea bathing at little risk. The NCC would initially have us believe that life and safety on the beaches –– to both native and visitor –– have not been left dangling on the bottom line of its account books, as recently charged by us.
And Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, who, by his own admission “had a little question” himself, has too announced this week his satisfaction with the NCC’s plan for a “properly manned” safety service on the seashores.
The National Conservation Commission boasts each beach will have four guards each, which is somewhat admirable, but would have been more praiseworthy if the move had obtained for all of the popular beaches in Barbados. The blunt cold fact is that it does not!
Of the 23 or so most popular beaches of Barbados, six, by confession of the NCC, will remain unattended. They are Silver Sands, Foul Bay, Bottom Bay, Morgan Lewis, Barclays Park and River Bay. Under what circumstances were these selected for abandonment?
In essence, for their own safety, sea bathers of these districts, such as River Bay, St Lucy in the north, should journey to Batts Rock, in St Michael, among the other beaches manned by NCC lifeguards, for a dip –– not encouragement not proffered before.
We ask again: at a time when the heavy summer holidays beckon, ought we to be beset by this discomfiture and madness? Is there no serious regard for the life of those who will be tempted to venture on those ignored and unmanned beaches that are no less luring, and which the NCC itself admits are popular too?
Minister Sealy says that with the hundreds of visitors, students and others expected to converge on the beaches, none of his “ministry’s partners” had expressed any concern in relation to any shortage of lifeguards. The question is: where do these “ministry partners” of Mr Sealy reside or operate? Surely not near the six overlooked beaches!
It may be asking too much for four lifeguards on each of the declared 23 popular beaches, but of the 70 lifeguards now employed –– and thanks to the NCC for reassigning four of them –– we could manage three per beach, couldn’t we? We do need to have that national feel of trust in the safest possible environment for beach users of the popular beaches in Barbados.
We cannot help but think, though, that despite Mr Sealy’s expression of satisfaction with swimmig saftey at our beaches that there is yet a deep concern not only for the tourists, but our Barbadian “kids”. We wish for nothing amiss or tragic; no less than we hope Mr Sealy will not have added to his portfolio Minister With Responsibilty For Living In Denial.
If the NCC is going to stand by its discrimination against the six rural popular beaches, it might want to pursue our suggestion, at the very least, of joining with other Barbadian entities as a matter of urgency in mounting a national campaign to teach as many of young children –– and adults –– how to swim competently, and save lives too –– at no monthy cost to it.
The need for all Barbadians to feel comfortable and confident of using the sea and truly believing that others will be able to safely do so are prerequisites to peace of mind –– for us and for no lesser a personage than Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy.