Tuk-Tuk Drivers, Vendors Help Patrol Beaches

Preah Sihanouk provincial police are looking close to the beach in their latest effort to recruit lifeguards, calling on beachside vendors and tuk-tuk drivers to volunteer amid a spate of drownings on the coast.

Five foreigners and a Cambodian have died in Sihanoukville’s waters since August 10, with a father and son from South Korea drowning after 140 police officers were deployed to monitor five beaches late last month.

Men stand on the Royal Group's jetty on O'Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk province in January. (Seng Ou)
Men stand on the Royal Group’s jetty on O’Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk province in January. (Seng Ou)

Twenty civilians have already volunteered their services, provincial police chief Chuon Narin said on Sunday.

“We will recruit more people to be lifeguards and they will be required to get intensive training to rescue people at the beaches of Ochoeuteal, O’Tres, Independence, Prey Treng and Koh Rong,” he said.

The volunteers—mostly tuk-tuk drivers and vendors—are charged with informing tourists of the dangerous winds that have hit the coast as well as taking to the water if someone is in danger, he said.

According to deputy provincial police chief Nop Panha, police officers who received training from a group of French lifeguards in 2011 will train the volunteers.

“We will give unofficial training to the lifeguards on how to rescue people from the water,” he said. “If the victim loses consciousness, they will be able to hold the victim upside down or press on their chest to get the water out.”

The volunteers will keep watch along the beach whenever they are able, he said, with vendors patrolling in the day and tuk-tuk drivers helping at night.

A Sihanoukville bar owner, who requested not to be named because he also works for the government, said the new recruits were unlikely to make a difference. “They say they’ll have ten more here—for me I don’t really trust on that,” he said. “They always say they have people protecting the beach, but actually they are not trained well.”

(Additional reporting by Janelle Retka)

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