A number of drowning accidents in Bali’s Nusa Penida has lead the local government to put up towers for lifeguards, the latest accident being the drowning of a man who was spearfishing on Wednesday last week.
Bali’s Klungkung regency is allocating Rp 1.7 billion (USD 127k) towards building watchtowers in the regency, to be erected on mainland Bali and on Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan islands.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are two small islands located off the southeast coast of mainland Bali. Though the islands have been gaining popularity with tourists in the last several years, the infrastructure remains limited, especially on Penida.
To be better prepared for future accidents, Klungkung plans to build watchtowers in three different points, the first of which will be in Kusamba, mainland Bali. The other two towers will be on the Batunuggal Coast of Nusa Penida and in the village of Jungutbatu on Nusa Lembongan, says Klungkung Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) director Putu Widiada.
“On Sept. 9, work on the watchtowers will begin. The budget for the three towers is Rp 1.7 billion,” Putu Widiada said on Friday.
Balawista (lifeguards) will be posted at the towers to maximize monitoring on the coast, according to Widiada. Each tower will eventually have 30 Balawista officers on duty, though for the remainder of this year, only five lifeguards will be assigned to each tower because of budget constraints, says the director.
BPBD Klunkung will also procure dive equipment for the towers because of the nature of some rescue missions.
“In some cases, the evacuation of the victims must be done by diving. Therefore diving equipment should be available. Meanwhile, as this time, we only have inflatable boats.”
There have been five recorded marine-related accidents in Klungkung this year, based on data collected by local newspaper Tribun Bali.
The first was in March, when a collision involving a small boat and a fishing boat off Nusa Lembongan and neighboring small island Nusa Ceningan, left one person dead.
In March, a tourist from New Zealand was carried out to sea by a wave at Angel’s Billabong in Penida. The kiwi’s body was found four days later.
Another was when a a young man from Sumba was lost after falling from the cliffs of Ceningan in May. His body was never recovered.
Just in August, a pair of tourists, one from South Africa and one from Denmark were stranded at an islet when spearfishing at Penida’s Atuh Beach. They were pulled out by a strong current but were fortunately able to be rescued after 17 hours.
While the most recent was just on Wednesday when a 32-year-old from Sanur was diving and spearfishing in the waters of Nusa Penida. He was allegedly dragged down by a fish he had speared, some 50 meters. His body was found and evacuated the following day.