LAST Sunday, Jonah Magino, a senior two student of Kingâ€™s College Budo, died in a swimming pool at Hotel Africana. Not long ago, a pupil of Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School also drowned in a pool at TLC, also in Kampala.
These deaths call to question the safety standards at the swimming pools in the country. First and foremost, there is no independent authority in Uganda that regulates the operations of swimming pools in public places. The National Council of Sports (NCS) says most swimming pools are in private facilities like hotels, which are outside their jurisdiction. The NCS says their role only stops at swimming tournaments organised by the Uganda Swimming Federation.
With the safety standards in swimming pools left to individual hotels, the public is at great risk and it is high time the NCS mandate was extended to cover public swimming facilities or a centralised regulatory organ was put in place to do the job.
Lives would not be lost if all safety standards were observed by swimming pool owners. First of all, all swimming pools in public places are supposed to have professional swimming instructors and life-savers around whenever there is someone in the pool. No hotel is supposed to operate a swimming pool without a permanent life-saver.
Secondly, nobody is supposed to get into the swimming pool unless he/she is a member or a hotel guest. As a matter of procedure, one first reports to the health club or the swimming pool manager and registers before getting into the pool. Thirdly, the life-saver is supposed to monitor all swimmers, experienced and learners alike.
Fourthly, hotels with swimming facilities are supposed to have insurance cover for all swimmers in case of any accident or incident resulting from the hotel negligence.
It is therefore, important that an independent body is established to ensure that operators of all public swimming facilities adhere to the minimum safety standards.
How safe are our swimming pools?