By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS municipalities want lifeguards to take up their duties to supervise local beaches earlier than usual this year, ahead of the Easter break.
Although the start of the summer season is generally recognised as commencing at the beginning of May, the head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee Andreas Chrysanthou said that three lifeguards are already in place in Paphos. There are 26 or so lifeguards due to work in the entire district.
The beaches already under supervision are ‘Ta Bania’ in Kato Paphos, ‘Sodap’ beach on Poseidonos avenue and the ‘Lighthouse’ beach.
“It’s very important that the beaches are covered by lifeguards as many people like to swim and use the areas from April,” Chrysanthou said.
He met with the Paphos District Officer a few weeks ago, who informed him that he would take responsibility for the entire issue as there are “too many local authorities involved.”
“The aims is to try to get lifeguards on all of the districts beaches from April 15. We will have the ability to assign individual lifeguards to specific areas as we see fit.”
The beaches chief also wants to extend the lifeguards’ working hours, to enable better supervision of the beaches and the sea. Currently, the summer working hours are from 11am to 5.30pm off season and 11am to 6.30pm during the high season of July, August and September.
‘Ta Bania’ municipal beach in Kato Paphos is the only area to have a lifeguard assigned all year long, as it’s popular for winter swimming as well.
“My aim is to have lifeguards on the beaches from 9am to 7.30pm. This will cost around 21,000 euros more, but we will be able to cover some of this extra cost through our budget as I suggested last year,” he noted.
Peyia municipality has yet to place lifeguards on the hugely popular Coral Bay, despite requests to the local council and mayor, made by beaches head Nicos Konnikos.
“It would be a good idea, as with Paphos, Polis and other areas in Cyprus if we had lifeguards in place from April 1. If the costs aren’t covered by the government for the two weeks from April 15 to the beginning of May, we will cover the costs ourselves,” he said.
The Peyia beaches head noted that Coral Bay is already fairly busy.
“We also have the added problem of people already renting sun beds, even though the red buoys which show a safe swimming area are not in place.”
He noted that although some are operating legally, others don’t have the relevant licenses.
In the meantime, precautionary measures will again be taken along the deadly coastline from Kissonerga and Chloraka, which has seen 13 people drown in the dangerous waters in the last decade.
Chrysanthou said: “This area is still not classed as a bathing area and no lifeguard will be assigned there. I have met with the coastal police and the CTO, in order that all of the precautionary measures may be taken again this year to warn people not to swim there. I hope that this year there are no tragedies.”
The beaches head noted that here are huge signs in place all along the shoreline in multiple languages informing people of the dangerous rip currents, as well as red flags. Buoys and ropes in the sea to aid those who get into difficulty will be placed in the coming days. But despite the warnings, Chrysanthou said the only solution would be the construction of costly wave barriers.