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Phuket's beaches have no lifeguards and replacements are not coming yet

Help! Phuket Lifeguard System Needs Rescuing

Friday, January 22, 2010
Phuketwan News and Analysis

TWO lifeguard companies that were set to bid for the role of protecting swimmers on Phuket's prime beaches failed to submit tenders on schedule yesterday.

The Bhuket International Guard and Secure Standard Army companies missed appointments to lodge tenders at the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation for the lifeguards role.

Representatives from the first company, due to make a presentation between 9.30am and 10.30am, failed to arrive. The second company, due to make a presentation between 10.45am and 11.45am, also did not turn up.

When Phuketwan informed organisation chief executive Paiboon Upatising last night that the two tendering companies had failed to arrive, he expressed surprise.

He said he would find out what the situation was and get back.

The obligation of the administration to obey Thai law and call for tenders for lifeguards is seen as a major deficiency in providing proper year-round protection for tourists and islanders at Phuket's beaches.

Phuket's prime tourist beaches have been unguarded since mid-November, when the previous lifeguard contract expired.

Three drownings took place around Phuket in November, and four in December, although it is not possible to be specific about where those deaths occurred.

A Phuketwan photographer was present, however, when the body of a 10-year-old boy was wheeled in at Vachira Hospital in Phuket City on New Year's Day, after the child drowned at Nai Harn beach.

It was a grim start to 2010, and a tragic indication that an alternative needs to be found urgently to the tendering system.

While there is no certainty that the boy's life would have been saved by the presence of lifeguards, he stood no chance without them.

Figures show that 57 people drowned around Phuket in 2009, an extraordinarily high number when compared with the 153 deaths on the island's roads.

Relatives of some of the tourists who drowned on Phuket beaches during the dangerous monsoon season have questioned the island's promotion as a beach holiday destination between April and November.

Phuketwan was also present on Karon beach last year, soon after a tourist had drowned, and saw tourists repeatedly refuse to answer the whistle of a lifeguard and leave the water.

People are drawn to Phuket in the belief it is a year-round beach holiday destination, a view encouraged by the island's disingenuous ''summer'' marketing campaign.

Well-intentioned resorts who adopt this promotion readily take the low-season tourists, but do not always share responsibility for their guests' safety on the beaches.

If Phuket continues to encourage tourists to visit for beach holidays, it has an obligation to provide adequate warnings and a semblance of protection.

The administrative organisation is trapped by the legalities of the tendering system just as surely as some swimmers on Phuket become trapped by offshore ''rips''.

A more sympathetic and practical application of the law is required if lives are to be saved.

As the boy's death proved on New Year's Day, even in Phuket's more tranquil high season, drownings will occur without a proper system in place. And with no system at all . . .

Needless deaths will continue until a proper, safer alternative is found.
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Comments

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Boo Hoo while I hold back the tears. You backward thinkers.

Posted by Boo Hoo on January 22, 2010 18:58


Tuesday October 26, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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