Lack of safety measures at beaches

National 1 minute, 44 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

LOCAL non-governmental organisation Beach Bunch has called for better safety measures at public beaches after 22 drownings were recorded over the past seven years.

Beach Bunch President Rizan Latif said the actual figure may be much higher, but the Royal Brunei Police Force and Fire and Rescue Department have not disclosed official statistics.

The NGO only tallied drownings reported by the media between 2007 and 2014.

This is a huge number which can be prevented by introducing simple safety measures, such as life buoys and proper hazard signage at beaches, added Derek Singleton, an official from the Torbay Council in Devon, UK.

Singleton, who is helping Beach Bunch prepare a report on the quality of 15 local beaches, said authorities could implement cheap, simple measures such as placing first aid kits at beaches and using signs to inform visitors of safety hazards such as rip tides, driftwood and crocodiles.

Photographs of an alleged crocodile attack on a fisherman at Serasa Beach went viral on social media on Friday, although _The Brunei Times _could not independently verify the report.

However, the Beach Bunch did confirm that a crocodile, affectionately nicknamed ‘Big Ben’, is often spotted near the rocks at Serasa Beach.

The NGO said with development encroaching upon mangroves - the natural habitat of the Brunei crocodile - the reptiles are often pushed into the open water to look for food.

Rizan said Beach Bunch has invited an expert from Surf Lifesaving Australia to conduct a risk assessment on the public safety of Brunei’s beaches this May.

He added that lifeguards should be employed during periods of high public usage, such as weekends or school holidays.

Other considerations, such as the use of motorised vehicles on the beach, such as ATVs, should also be reviewed to ensure public safety.

The final report on management of Brunei’s beaches will be submitted in a few weeks, and made available to government agencies.

The beaches selected for the quality assessment are: Serasa, Muara, Meragang, Berakas, Tungku, Jerudong, Empire, Seri Kenangan, Penanjong, Telisai, Sg Liang, Lumut, Panaga, Seria and Kuala Belait.

The Brunei Times