Don’t disregard beaches

Opposition says failure to man seaside could cost lives

The Opposition has called on Government to take immediate steps to ensure beaches across the island are sufficiently manned, warning that failure to do so would amount to “gambling with precious lives”.

The call from Shadow Minister of the Environment Senator Wilfred Abrahams comes a week after 18-year-old Shaquille Denny drowned after diving off a cliff at Crane Beach, St Philip.

Senator Wilfred Abrahams
Shadow Minister of Environment Senator Wilfred Abrahams

No lifeguard was on duty at the time.

“This simply is not good enough,” said Abrahams as he argued that having a sufficient complement of lifeguards was a necessity and not an option.

“The Minister responsible for the National Conservation Commission (NCC), Dr Denis Lowe, needs to accept that a mistake has been made and that the ill-conceived cuts at the NCC have created a situation which presents a clear and present danger to Barbadians and visitors alike.”

Contending that the tragedy could possibly have been avoided if lifeguard personnel were on the beach, Abrahams added: “This situation, unless corrected, will result in further needless loss of life. The Government and Minister Lowe, by their failure to satisfactorily address this shortcoming, are playing the odds with the lives of sea-bathers.”

More than two dozen lifeguards were among the NCC workers sent home earlier this year during the Government’s retrenchment exercise.

Abrahams insisted, however, that the safety of sea bathers could not be compromised, regardless of how much Government wanted to save money.

He said the money Government saved from reducing the number of lifeguards on the payroll, “cannot nearly compensate for the loss of a life and, as such, the reckless depletion of the lifeguard complement on our beaches is at the very least gross negligence.

“What compounds the most recent tragedy is that the Crane Beach was identified only this May, as one of the beaches at which four lifeguards would be deployed.”

Abrahams argued that Government had been warned on several occasions against making the public sector cuts in a haphazard way.

“The retrenching of 28 lifeguards earlier this year was publicly denounced by the Barbados Labour Party, tourism officials and members of the public. It is significant that those same officials alerted Government to the potential dangers at the Crane Beach and by extension, the potential impact on the vital tourism industry,” he said.

“There are simply some departments where wholesale cuts cannot be made without dire or even fatal consequences. In some cases, the impact of misguided governmental decisions may take a while to manifest [themselves]. However, in the case where the severe understaffing of the NCC leads to situations in which our beaches are unmanned, the consequences of an error are immediate, permanent and inexcusable.”

Abrahams argued that while it is generally accepted that the Government is in a situation where it feels compelled to radically restructure the Civil Service, such restructuring must be systematic and done in a way that is the least disruptive to the economy and safety of Barbadians.

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3 Responses to Don’t disregard beaches

  1. Sharon Woolley
    Sharon Woolley September 20, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Manned with life guards or police ? or both !

  2. Rickie Nurse September 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

    PLEASE reinstate all lifeguards sent home in the cost cutting measures of the government. This loss of a young life is a loss too much that we can not afford.

    Do you all have any idea what an embarrassment and international stink it would have been if our unfortunate youth was a guest of The Crane Resort form North America or Europe?

    At this very moment Barbados would have already been Blacklisted as an unsafe destination for visitors on our beaches, with no Life Guards available in times of emergency.

    Do not allow this youngster’s death to just slip away in time as just another tragedy due to the lack of available Life Guards necessary at any given time on our beaches. He was one of our own.

  3. Tony Waterman September 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Here is a CLASSIC example of the WHITEHALL STYLE OF POLITICS at work, I am Not the best Fan of this BUNCH of Misfits we have in Control at this present time, but is also show up the flaws in this style of Politics, Opposition HAS to OPPOSE regardless of RIGHT or WRONG.
    Why is Shadow Minister of the Environment Senator Wilfred Abrahams not calling for an AUTOPSY to CLARIFY how this youngster ACTUALLY DIED. it is REPORTED that he was DIVING off a CLIFF, perhaps he died from bashing his head into a rock below the surface of the water, in which case a lifeguard would have made absolutely no difference at all.

    I have travelled in other Countries and around Certain parts of North America, and where they are not Lifeguard at Beaches, there are signs POSTED Stating Such. it is then up to persons to use or not use that particular Beach.

    Criticizing the Government for trying to grapple with the Country’s Financial dilemma, i find is quite silly, as you are in no position to SHOW US how you would do it, so until you get there, lets see how much HELP we can lend to what we have.


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