Those looking to cool off at one of Kouga’s beaches, they now have to swim at their own risk as the beaches are no longer monitored by lifeguards.
According to Kouga Municipal spokesperson, Laura-Leigh Randall, their will only be lifeguards at Dolphin Beach from November this year.
“There are lifeguards at Dolphin Beach, our Blue Flag beach, from November to April. The other swimming beaches usually only have lifeguards over the December holiday,” says Randall.
“The municipality has limited resources with which it has to deliver a vast range of services. This means that, when the new budget is approved annually, Council has to prioritise what can and can’t be done in any given year. When it comes to lifesaving services, having these available over the peak holiday season and during the Blue Flag season, was considered to be the priority.”
Randall advises residents never to swim alone and to look out for the people you are with. “Also avoid places that are not considered safe for swimming. If you are uncertain as to the sea conditions at any given time, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)I can offer advice in this regard.”
According to DA councillor, Brenton Williams, the DA believes there should be permanent life guards at the main beach throughout the year for a number of reasons.
“Our beaches are our prime assets and Dolphin Beach in particular, is a world class swimming beach. We are trying to grow the tourism industry and having year round lifeguards on Dolphin Beach will make tourists and locals feel safer and more secure. On most sunny days, one will see people swimming at the beach even when there are no lifeguards on duty during the winter months, says Williams.
“There has also been an increase in shark activity in recent times and having more eyes on the water will assist in lessening the risk of an incident and also to have a quicker response should an incident occur. Furthermore, we have some highly capable and experienced lifeguards in Jeffreys Bay who earn no income for six months of the year as they only get a contract from November to April.
“We cannot expect to retain the best lifeguards if they can get better employment opportunities elsewhere on a permanent basis. We also need to deploy permanent security personnel to the Main Beach and extended beachfront area to prevent the criminal element from stealing and harassing people who want to enjoy our world class asset.”
) In the event of an emergency, contact the local NSRI at 079 916 0390 (Jeffreys Bay) or 082 990 5969 (St Francis Bay), whose volunteers are on standby 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.
Alternatively, contact the Kouga’s all hours emergency number at 042 291 0250 or 042 291 0283