Truly reliable national statistics on drowning are not available but all evidence points to an increase in drownings in rivers and dams throughout South Africa and Nelson Mandela Bay is no exception to the rule.
According to Dave Bamber of the Bluewater Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, statistics for last year showed that more than 50% of all drownings in Nelson Mandela Bay took place in the Swartkops River alone.
“This led to calls from the Metro’s Sports & Recreation Department for any input on how the situation could be addressed. Bluewater Bay has responded to this call by launching its new initiative which includes a river patrol, land patrols on the river banks, the erection of warning signage, pamphlet distribution and the publication of a children’s book in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa,” said Bamber.
“The main aim of all of these facets of the initiative is to educate.
The areas of concern on the river are the northern side of Redhouse, at Brickfields, the railway bridge and wharf at Swartkops and near the N2 Bridge over the Swartkops River,” added Bamber.
Bluewater Bay’s existing drowning prevention programme which increased patrols along the entire beach from Wells Estate to the Swartkops River mouth has already been responsible for moving hundreds of bathers out of dangerous swimming areas – thus preventing many potential drowning situations.
This saw the Club winning Lifesaving South Africa’s award for the best drowning prevention programme in the country in 2012, 2013 and 2014.