BEACH lovers could soon find themselves unable to swim at popular Sardinia Bay.
Today, a proposed ban on swimming at the Port Elizabeth beach will be discussed at a sports, arts and recreation portfolio committee meeting in council chambers.
In a document to be debated by the portfolio committee, treacherous conditions at the beach and a decline in the membership of the Sardinia Bay Life Saving Club are listed as reasons for the suggested ban.
The document says it is necessary to do a risk assessment of Sardinia Bay beach with the intention of determining the following:
- Whether it is suitable for swimming and other activities to continue to be permitted there;
- What minimum safety measures will be required if swimming is allowed to continue; and
ýWhat measures need to be taken to reduce risk if it is found the beach is no longer suitable for swimming.
The document goes on to say "in the meantime ... to contain ... risk" swimming at the beach should be banned.
DA ward 1 councillor Stanford Slabbert said the proposed ban was "absurd".
"Just because they cannot maintain the beach, now they want to close it. Law enforcement in summer is not what it should be. If there was proper law enforcement, proper support for lifeguards, and proper signs none of this would be happening. The whole thing is absurd.
"The beach services the whole of the western side [of Nelson Mandela Bay], Uitenhage, Despatch, and the people from Walmer Township go there. It is also a tourist attraction. It is the most beautiful and most esteemed beach on our coast," Slabbert said.
"If they close this beach who knows which one is next? Of course the DA will [oppose] this at the standingcommittee meeting. We are hoping sanity will prevail."
Sardinia Bay Life Saving Club secretary Sue Hoffmann said she believed the beach was safe.
"Our lifeguards will continue to work hard. We have never had any incidents of people drowning at Sardinia Bay where the voluntary lifeguards work.
"That happens in Sylvic Bay [where no lifeguards are stationed].
"Not everyone wants to go where the traffic is – some people love nature," she said.
She said they had between five and seven voluntary lifeguards, while the municipality had a maximum of four lifeguards.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the matter was still to be discussed. "The matter is still going to be discussed by the standing committee, then it will go to the mayoral committee, then to council.
"We must allow the committee to debate and make a decision."