Ensuring safety, saving lives at Lagos beaches
Many Lagos State residents retreat to the many beaches that dot the state to catch some fun and relax on festive occasions, away from the hustle and bustle that characterise life in the city centre.
Apart from the Yuletide season and festive periods, celebrants also see these places as choice spots for the celebration their birthday anniversaries, while churches and social clubs also find time to gather their members at the beach for one form of merrymaking or the other.
Over the years, the news of death of revelers being washed away by the rampaging tide have continued to filter from the beaches without much being done to stem the tide.
On September 22, 2009, during the Sallah celebration, it was reported that 10 persons got washed away at the popular Bar Beach that is now extinct, as a result of the construction of Eko Atlantic City. The following year, 2010, three fun seekers lost their lives at the Suntan Beach, Badagry, as they were drowned.
Two years after on August 2012, 16 merrymakers who left home to celebrate the Yuletide at different beaches across the state did not return to their families, as they got drowned.
In 2013, a student of Covenant University, Ndubuisi Brown, got drowned at Tarkwa Bay, Lagos.
In 2014, five persons lost their lives at a beach in Lagos while celebrating one of the festivities.
Last year, two female postgraduate students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) got drowned at Elegushi Beach, during a friend’s birthday.
Most beaches in the state, especially those not managed by private organisations, are without trained lifeguards who would have ensured that beach users adhere strictly to prescribed safety measures.
The few beach workers that are on government payroll at beaches managed by government are more interested in collecting gate fees than how to ensure that no fatal accidents occur under their watch.
Many of those consumed in the tragic incidents of being washed away at the beaches were in their prime age,
What is making the rising spate of beach fatalities worrisome is the fact that most of those consumed are in their prime, and could have been saved in most cases if the lifeguards were trained and alert to their responsibilities.
Ugochi Obidiegwu, a safety enthusiast while giving his perspectives on the issue said, before a beach is accredited for use, government should ensure certain criteria are met, including carrying out risk assessment and putting in place safety measures tailored to meet the particular environmental needs of the beach “because different beaches have different layouts. However, there are basic things all of them should have, like sufficient and well-trained lifeguards and life jackets.”
Noting that individual responsibility is also important, Obidiegwu said that fun seekers should be made to understand that getting close to the water, if they cannot swim is a dangerous thing to do.
She therefore suggested some pep talks on safety for visitors to the beaches before full access are granted and picnicking get underway.
“In addition, those who cannot swim should not be pushed into the water playfully, so their friends would be aware they cannot swim. Alcohol should be avoided because of its ability to impair vision. Safety signs must be introduced at beaches. It is of great importance that before a beach is open to the public, assessment is done and routine inspection carried out to ensure standards are met and maintained, including risk assessment,” said Obidiegwu.
The Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Adebowale Akinsanya, said having investigated some of the latest incidents of fun seekers losing their lives at beaches in the state, “the government investigated and identified some reasons why they got drowned at our beaches. The reasons include, lack of proper enlightenment of members of the public on the use of beaches; poor enforcement of existing rules and regulations guiding the use of beaches and deviant attitude of some fun seekers.”
The commissioner added that the basic challenge the government has in putting an end to fun seekers drowning at beaches is having them freely comply with regulations guiding the use of beaches.
He also said one of the measures taken to ensure that no fun seeker get drowned is that the state government, through the Committee on Waterfront Infrastructure Development of the State House of Assembly, recently called a stakeholders’ meeting in order to have their input on the “Beaches Regulation” which the committee is working on, and which would soon be signed into law by the state governor.
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