SEVERAL people have been stopped from swimming and jet-skiing off Bahrain’s coasts as a temporary ban was well underway yesterday.
People were not allowed to step into the water at several locations including Hidd, Galali, Askar and Jaw with the Coastguard and municipal inspectors carrying out the temporary ban to ensure people’s safety and well-being.
The move comes after a four-year-old girl died last week despite being rescued from the sea along with six other members of her family.
Parliament’s public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Adel Al Asoomi confirmed to the GDN yesterday that the ban has been imposed – adding that MPs would soon meet the bodies concerned to draw up a list of locations that should be permanently closed off to swimming.
The GDN reported yesterday that people will be allowed to swim and jet-ski at sanctioned locations that will be allocated for such purposes by the month end.
Licensed clubs and resorts are excluded from the ban, but will have to abide by strict rules and regulations to ensure people’s lives are not put in danger.
“The ban is temporary and not permanent, it is not placed to restrict people’s freedom, but to place an organised criteria to protect lives,” said Mr Al Asoomi.
“The Coastguard’s extensive presence to stop people from entering for swimming or for jet-skiing is a step forward and should have been done years ago and could have reduced the number of tragedies, and I praise the Interior Ministry for its decision to implement the ban.
“The move, spearheaded by the Capital Trustees Board, will now be overseen by us in parliament and we will meet all of those concerned to place rules and regulations on which locations can be acceptable and which should be banned, along with the implementation of safety requirements.
“Other than clubs and hotels, all other coastal areas are not in a safe condition for people to use.”
He said the aim of the new rules was to prevent tragedies such as that of four-year-old Fatema Al A’ali from happening again.
The GDN reported on Thursday on how a 36-year-old Bahraini, Jaffar Al Yousif, battled strong sea currents to rescue the group of seven people swimming off the coast of Demistan last Monday.
Mr Al Yousif, who was on the beach nearby, heard the struggling family’s cries for help and jumped into his speed boat to rescue them.
However, Fatema died in hospital the following day.
“In authorised areas, flags or signs will be put up to indicate to people when it is safe to enter the water,” said Mr Al Asoomi.
“Security personnel, life guards and paramedics will also be posted at these places.
“We will also look into mechanisms on how to register people using these locations to ensure people are getting in and out of the water.”
Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Al Sinan said there was a heavy presence of Coastguard personnel as many people were stopped from swimming in Galali and Hidd as the coasts lead to deep waters.
He said it was also important for a permanent ban to be imposed on certain areas as they contain deep waters due to land reclamation.
“People who mostly disregard their safety and well-being just jump into the water or climb on their jet-skiis without consideration that with reclamation going on they could be in very deep waters and heavy currents,” he said.
“They don’t realise they could be sucked in, and tragedies have happened when people went for swimming or recreational sports.
“What the Coastguard has done by turning people away is a step forward until proper rules are placed for everyone’s good.”
Northern Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Buhamood said he hoped the ban would continue and that stricter regulations would be enforced in the future.
“This is because a girl died a few days ago and there is a buzz, the ban has been imposed and the Coastguard is in full force,” he added.
Capital Trustees Board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaie, meanwhile, said that even though they spearheaded the move the decision to impose the ban was made by the government bodies concerned.