A TENDER wrangle concerning the operation of licensed water sports facilities at Coral Bay in Paphos has resulted in an illegal set up offering services to unsuspecting tourists, according to a local councillor.
Linda Leblanc told the Cyprus Mail that following a complaint about an accident that occurred at Coral Bay on May 28, (made to the Peyia Coalition of Independents, of which she is the elected councillor), which involved two young British holidaymakers, preliminary investigations have found that an operation, set up without the necessary permits.
She said they have jumped in to offer an illegal service on one of the islands most popular blue flagged beaches.
“It is very lucky that neither of the people involved in this incident were seriously hurt and it raises concerns as to the safety of unsuspecting tourists who are being lured onto jet skis and racing around Coral Bay, completely unlicensed,” she said.
Leblanc said that the illegal operators disappear at the first sight of the police, and that the marine police are now involved. She noted that there is a real chance of a serious accident, especially in the wake of the incident just over a week ago.
“There seems to be some form of communication, perhaps two way radios between a collaborator on the beach and the Jet Ski driver,” she said. Adding that if they were approaching potential customers on the beach and had someone officially collecting money there, the authorities could ‘nab’ them.
Leblanc said that the jet skis zip in to around two metres off shore, customers clamber on and they zip out again.
She said that an accident occurred in Coral Bay on May 28, which saw a young couple left battered and bruised and stranded on rocks, and unable to start their jet ski.
An eyewitness reported the incident to the Peyia Coalition. He said that along with his family and friends he was relaxing by a pool overlooking Coral Bay’s rocky headland when they heard shouting.
“A male and female in their early twenties were sitting on a jet ski, very close to where the waves were breaking on the rocks,” he said.
It was later discovered that the driver had fallen off and the key had dropped into the water, so the pair were unable start it.
“A boat used to tow inflatables arrived from the beach but close to the rocks, its engine died and the driver couldn’t restart it. He then waved in another jet ski which towed the boat to safety before returning to the couple and attempting to throw them a spare key. The young man jumped off but couldn’t find it; a wave then overturned the couple’s Jet Ski and tossed them into the breaking waves on the rocks, whilst their jet ski turned in circles.”
The man shouted to the couple to swim out to sea, away from the rocks but the waves were too strong. The man began swimming towards his boat in the bay, he added.
“A friend and I ran down to the rocks to help and we directed the couple up to us. We took the couple to our villa and let them shower and clean numerous cuts which they had incurred.”
Leblanc noted: “People don’t realise that these people are unlicensed and the level of lawlessness is incredible. Fortunately, the injuries weren’t serious this time.”
Delays to the water sports tender process are complicated, said Leblanc and are also resulting in a loss of income for the municipality. A wrangle has emerged between two tenders who bid for the contract last year, and is ongoing.
“Last year, the five year tender was awarded to relatives of the mayor, although they didn’t have all of the necessary permits, and the second tender who bid, and is in possession of the required permits objected.
The National Beaches Committee ruled on this objection earlier this year and found that the complaint was justified.”
However, this was then challenged by the first bidder, she said.
Six weeks ago, the council decided, by a slim majority that the tender with all the required permits, should be awarded the contract.
“There is a delay because the second objection is being examined. It’s all still up in the air and there should be a meeting this week in Peyia, between the council, the CTO and the National Beaches Committee.”
In addition, Leblanc said that delays to the tender process for the beaches two kiosks (beach bars) means that they remain closed, well into the season. However, she noted that municipality staff are at the site offering drinks and crisps.
She also noted, access to the beach across Leptos owned land is still closed, and recommendations from the attorney-general on the issue will be discussed at the next council meeting.