With the high influx of visitors to coastal areas around the Eastern Cape during the festive season and crowded public spaces, children get lost and some are at risk of drowning.
Buffalo City Metro’s beaches welcome over two million visitors at this time of year and to make sure even the youngest visitor is safe during their visit, the city has measures in place to ensure not a single life is lost.
City spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said BCM prepared for this time of the year well in advance. He said this year the city had employed an additional 36 lifeguards to work over the festive period.
“On an annual basis, the city prepares for – and manages – the influx of crowds to various beaches and amenities. Presently, these sections include public beaches and associated tidal pools, public swimming beaches, picnic areas and related public open spaces including the Orient Beach and Waterworld pay complexes,” said Ngwenya.
Yesterday, members of the SAPS mounted unit was seen patrolling along Eastern Beach.
Another safety measure is to work with the Social Development Department to have in place teams that look out for lost children on beaches.
Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani said teams co-ordinated social services to provide safe havens for children during this time. The department has a toll-free number for parents to use, as well as anyone who felt a need for counselling. In cases of emergency and distress during the festive season, the public can call the Social Development Department’s call centre number: 0800-428-428.
On this toll-free number one can ask to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling. Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# from any cellphone, explained Solani. When a caller contacts the centre from a cellphone, they are geographically located, enabling the centre to determine resources closest to the caller.
Solani said a tent would be erected at the Esplanade as part of a joint operation centre with other emergency services, where children would be registered and be given wristbands with their details and those of their parents or guardians. if they are unable to trace parents or guardians, children would then be taken to child care centres until they are reunited.