KARACHI: Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administration is lacking the needed number of lifeguards, who can play a pivotal role in preventing beachgoers from drowning. In a situation when it is being demanded that the number of lifeguards should be increased to avoid the repetition of recent SeaView tragedy in which 39 people fell prey due to poor administration, the KMC is not giving the needed focus to beach safety measures.
According to a report around 250 people drown on Karachi beaches every year. However, the recent incident was unusual as extra-ordinary high number of people died in a one go.
Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Ahteshamuddin, who heads lifeguards of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, That KMC had been facing acute shortage of lifeguards on a vast coastal belt of the Arabian Sea under its control.
“KMC is working with 50 lifeguards from Hawksbay to Mubarak Village, including Sands Pit vicinity and some part of Clifton beach, while the requirement is 250 to 300 life guards,” he said.
The CFO said the lifeguards were performing their duties around Neelum Point, Paradise Point and Hawksbay where emergency rescue centers were also established.
That r the lifeguards are not provided any special training nor required equipments. They had a boat, first aid equipment and some medicine for the infection of rash that erupts after blue-water’s (a water organism) stinging, which is a normal thing during breeding season of fish and monsoon.
Among other difficulties lifeguards tend to face, they also have to encounter verbal and physical abuse of picnickers while discharging their duties, said the sources.
Ahteshamuddin said that the local people were hired for lifeguard duty who already knew swimming; hence no special training was required in this regard.
About the incident, Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui earlier could not give any shrewd reason when asked why administration was not able to implement the Section 144; however, he said that many policemen were posted at different locations for the purpose but the picnickers gave no heed to their instructions and it was difficult to stop such a big crowd thronging the sea. “Had we imposed it forcibly, the people would have criminated us for spoiling their holidays,” he told.
Many social and political circles have demanded a judicial probe into the tragic deaths of the people and held the Clifton Cantonment Board, KPT and KMC responsible for the incident along with the provincial government.