Only 42 lifeguards man 24 lifeguard posts covering 80km of coastline stretching from Pissouri to Governor’s Beach, saidLimassol lifeguard spokesman, Andreas Isichiou, on Monday.
According to international standards, at least 70 lifeguards need to be employed, and anther 10 lifeguard stations need to be created in order to cover Limassol’s beaches and they should each be equipped with a lifeguard’s vessel.
According to Isichiou, of the 24 stations currently in operation, only ten are equipped with a lifeguard vessel which is in need of maintenance and in some cases replacement.
The Lifeguard unit which falls under the auspices of the Interior Ministry faces many problems arising from economic shortfalls due to the small budget that is allocated to the service.
Only the main beaches in Limassol have lifeguards on duty, and these include; Olympion Beach, Theodosiou Storerooms, Limassol Sailing Club, CTO Forest, Kastella, Loures, Onisilos, Aphrodite, Armonia,Vouppa beach, Four Seasons Hotel, Ayia Varvara in the Ayios Tychonas area, Pareklishia community beach, the beach to the east and west of the St Raphael Hotel, and the Aoratoi beach at Pyrgos. Governor’s Beach, Lady’s Mile, Ayios Ermogeni also have lifeguards.
Of the 24 lifeguard stations, 11 work for eight months, four for six months, four for four months, and the remaining five posts for two months.
“At this moment, there is no legislature that consolidates our profession in order to install lifeguard duty on a permanent basis. We have over the last few years fought for recognition for our profession but without any results!” explains Isichiou.
Lifeguards need to be extremely qualified and well trained in order to get their certification, which also includes first aid. Their job is not to save people from drowning, but cover a wide range of duties both in and out of the water, including first aid, patrolling and maintaining beach regulations. Despite their qualifications and duties, Isichiou claims that salaries for lifeguards are equal to unskilled public labourer’s hourly rate.