Dispute over City’s notice on lifeguards
LIFESAVING Western Province (LWP) was at loggerheads with the City for failing to honour the agreement to consult it before issuing statements about the deployment of lifeguards during the summer season.
LWP called for an urgent meeting with the City after its statement that it would dispatch about 100 lifeguards to the metro region’s beaches.
The lifesaving body has charged that the City didn’t give credit in its statement to 1 800 voluntary lifesavers from 13 lifesaving clubs in the metro.
In its statement, the City’s Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department said it had employed permanent and seasonal lifeguards to improve beach safety.
LWP chairperson Brian Sturman said: “At the moment, we have an agreement with the City in principle that we will not publish anything without consulting the other party.
“They sent us an advanced copy of the press release, and I asked them to hold back from publishing. We wanted to suggest corrections.”
The body is responsible for conducting exams and issuing of certificates to lifeguards.
Sturman said the number of lifeguards to be deployed per beach was agreed upon after a recent meeting.
“The point is, there are beaches where we have lots of lifeguards on weekends and public holidays, but if there is a shortage of manpower, the relevant club will advise (the City) of being understaffed, and the City will provide a service to assist the club,” he said.
Community Services Mayco member Albert Ntsodo said the City had given all roleplayers an opportunity to peruse the press statement before its release.
He said several issues were discussed, including communication and marketing strategy, maximising co-ordination between the NSRI, the City and LWP.
Ntsodo said all the initiatives discussed at the meeting were focused on improving the safety of swimmers at beaches.
He said the City and LWP would continue to work together to ensure the safety of swimmers.
“The aim of the City’s lifeguarding programme is to provide a lifesaving standard of the highest quality, and to provide lifeguards with better career-path opportunities,” he said.
Ntsodo said the 100 lifeguards would be on duty every weekend from 2pm to 6pm on Saturdays, and from 10am to 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.
“While I am confident that the lifeguards employed to ensure the safety of beachgoers are competent and well qualified, beach safety is a shared responsibility between our beach safety staff and our beachgoers,” he said.
Many drownings were linked to the consumption of alcohol before swimming, or people swimming in dangerous areas not designated by lifeguards.