The tragic incident of drowning of twelve people at Hawksbay in Karachi yesterday has prompted a discussion of swimming safety and beach security measures in the city by the sea.

This incident is unfortunately one of many drowning incidents that haunt the city. In May the government imposed a ban under Section 144 of the CPC on swimming in the sea at the beaches for the next six months. However, this incident of drowning, with the youngest victim being twelve years old, is a clear sign that more security measures are needed, as is more vigilance by private individuals.

This inefficiency has been remarked upon by public authorities. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah sought a report from the home secretary on the incident and asked how the family waded into the sea despite the imposition of Section 144. Bilawal Bhutto also expressed shock at the tragedy and called for prudent security measures.

It appears that just banning swimming on the beaches is not an effective solution. Thirty lifeguards were situated during the incident yet they could not bar the victims for swimming south, despite repeat requests. Lifeguards report that when they warn visitors not to swim, they are ignored. This is unacceptable civic behaviour, and encourages other to be reckless. There are also few warning sign posts cautioning swimmers not to go further. The police at the entrance to the beach only check visitors for drugs or weapons and do not place emphasis on swimming safety.

One suggestion is to accompany lifeguards with police to give more authority to implement bans. Visitors should be preached on prudent measures before entering and a system of fines be put in place. Granted there are few avenues for leisure in Pakistan for families, yet, in these cases, where injury and death and avoidable, it is also the responsibility of the private citizen to make better choices.

Similar to traffic violations, breaching of the swimming ban by citizens has lead to tragic consequences. In the long term, education about civic responsibility and security measures would be the best solution. For now an effort by the government to boost morale about security would do.