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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Stakeholders Kick Against Food, Alcohol Ban At Public Swimming Pools

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Stakeholders in the hospitality industry particularly hotel proprietors, are kicking against government’s move to ban the possession or consumption of alcoholic liquors, beer or wine around public swimming pools in the state. Also to be prohibited is igniting open flames.

According to reliable sources, the move is aimed at improving safety within the radius of public swimming pools and beaches.

Pool and beach accidents compelled the state government to propose the new regulations.

The commissioner for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Relations, Mr. Disun Holloway last April, said about 3, 000 hotels and tourism related establishments operating in the Lagos have been identified and enumerated as part of a monitoring programme of the state government.

Mr. Michael Etuk, a hotel proprietor, said activities around the pool attract more fun seekers than any spot in the hotel, saying: “When you tell anyone you are organizing a pool side party, they want to attend. Activities around the pool rake in more money than others. I will urge the state government to consider the hoteliers and adjust the regulation before it is passed into law.”

Mr. Jesuton Avoseh, said: “I manage a beach along Badagry axis of this state; when one begins to conduct oral check on customers before gaining access to the beach, they will feel uncomfortable. We could lose customers. Even after gaining access, it is not easy to know someone who had just eaten. All we could do is to monitor the beach to ensure that people do not exceed safety zones.”

Secretary, Lagos State Hotel Licensing Authority, Ms. Aduke Gomez said the issue of bar and barbecue spot around swimming pool should not be barred as some pools use bar and barbecue joint to generate revenue.

Gomez cautioned that section 1(2) which stipulates erecting of barriers around swimming pools, saying that it may become a distraction and even affect the aesthetic nature of pools.

She also noted that those in hospitality business especially hotels are known to situate bars close to swimming pools, adding that if drinking alcohol or any other liquor is prohibited for users of pools, that according to her, may affect their businesses.

Mr. Akinjide Ogunwale, a stakeholder in the hospitality industry, said the provision of section 4(2) on the issue of operators of swimming pools to obtain permit should be geared towards safety compliance certificate.

Ogunwale told the participants that in terms of ensuring standard, the international standard for the size of a swimming pool is 50/25metres.

He also advised that the regulation should include swimming goggles and caps to ensure safety.

The proposed regulation

The regulations shall apply to every swimming pool which may be accessed by members of the public either without restriction or subject to club membership or payment of a fee in the state.

Presenting the eight-page regulation, the Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Mrs. Odebunmi Dominga, at a one-day stakeholders meeting held at the Lagos State House of Assembly recently, said that the intention of the state government is to ensure safety.

According to section 6 (2) of the proposed regulation, “it shall be unlawful for any person to possess any alcoholic liquors, beer, ale, porter, wine or any other similar malt or fermented beverage on any public swimming pool, public swimming access, street end adjacent to the pool, or any government land immediately adjacent to the pool, except as otherwise lawfully permitted.”

Section 6(3) also said “It shall be unlawful for any person to swim after consumption of alcohol.” While section 2(4) compelled the owners of the pool to put a sign in a conspicuous place prohibiting the usage of the facility within an hour of drinking alcohol or consuming food.

The rules also compelled owners of pools constructed below the ground to erect “a barrier which completely surrounds the swimming pool and hinders direct access” to it, and an approved pool alarm capable of detecting anyone accessing the facility must be installed.

According to the proposed regulations, every public swimming pool shall from time to time be cleaned and maintained, just as there shall be a written programme for the cleaning and maintenance of public swimming pool, which indicate the nature of frequency of cleaning and cleaning schedule.

No person shall construct or substantially alter any public swimming pool, beach, wading pool, whirlpool, spa, hot tub, or appurtenances pertaining to health and safety unless a copy of the plans and specifications for the new or altered structures has been submitted to and approved by appropriate authority in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.

When the regulations is passed, it shall also be unlawful for any person to build, start, ignite or maintain any fire or open flame or heating device heated by fire on any public beach, public beach access, street end adjacent to the beach, or any government land immediately adjacent to the beach, except as may be lawfully permitted.

It shall be unlawful for any person to sleep at a public swimming pool or public access between the hours of 9pm and 8am.

Anyone who contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of these regulations shall be liable to a penalty of N20, 000.00 (Twenty Thousand Naira) fine.

A swimming pool operator who contravenes any aspect of the regulations will be liable to a penalty of N250,000 (Two Hundred and fifty thousand Naira) fine.

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