Mayaro MP Rushton Paray is calling on the authorities to boost lifeguard patrols in the Mayaro area for the Easter vacation period, noting the lifeguards there are starved for resources.
“I am urging the Minister of National Security to ensure, barring further COVID-19 restrictions, that all lifeguard booths are manned, especially those in Mayaro, as we are expecting bumper crowd to our beaches,” Paray told Guardian Media.
“Concurrently, I expect the Police Commissioner to augment additional officers to increase patrols in and around our beaches, beach resorts and guest houses. This will have the dual effect of providing a sense of security and comfort while maintaining strict COVID-19 regulations.”
Paray said he also wants the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation to remove the plethora of sargassum seaweed that has recently overrun the beachfront.
Guardian Media visited Mayaro over the weekend and spoke with lifeguards who complained that they have no vehicles to patrol a three-mile stretch of coastline. Lifeguards said they expect on average 3,000-4,000 visitors daily during the Easter weekend but said they were not equipped to handle any large contingent of bathers. They said they had no vehicles to do beach patrols and they were not equipped with any light watercraft to undertake rescues.
One of the lifeguards, who did not want to be identified, said, “When we are on patrol we have to deal with the bathers. Many of them do not like to wear masks when they come to the beach. The most we can do is talk to them in a safe manner and tell them where is safe to bathe.”
He said they also had issues with the fact that the lifeguard towers were not being sanitised.
“We need transportation and to get the towers sanitised,” he said.
Domestic tourism promoter Shanti Singh, a resident of Mayaro and the administrator of the Facebook page Vacation Staycation, said because of COVID-19 restrictions, many people had been turning to domestic tourism as way to get out of the rut of COVID fatigue.
Singh said many beach houses had been booked for months. However, she said, the area was being short-changed by the authorities and more had to be done to boost local tourism.
Singh said the area needed a facelift, adding the sargassum, debris and garbage on the beach needed to be cleared daily. She called for a public education campaign to ensure that persons visiting the area did not litter but instead develop a sense of appreciation for Mayaro.
Singh said she was aware of the challenges faced by lifeguards and advised persons visiting the area to speak with lifeguards before they ventured into the waters.
“I have not seen any effort being made to deter people from littering, any sort of beach clean-ups, putting bins for people to put garbage. We need to have some sort of education programme to inform people what we have and what we need to take care of. We need to keep this area pristine,” Singh said.
She said the road network to get to Mayaro was horrendous and deterred a lot of potential tourists from visiting the region.