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Beach Chair ‘wars’ At Maracas

Discussion in 'latest News in Trinidad & Tobago' started by alexk, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. alexk

    alexk Guest


    A bake and shark vendor, a beach accessories vendor, and two lifeguards are selling beach chairs along with several other chair rental companies adding to the chaos at Maracas Beach.

    There are nine chair vendors on the beach but only one is licenced by the Government, and was paying a rent up to last year.

    The Sunday Guardian visited the beach last Sunday after several complaints from citizens that the ‘rogue’ chair rental companies had literally taken over the beach staking their territory with their chairs and umbrellas early in the morning, preventing beachgoers from getting a spot on the sand and in effect pushing them out or extorting them to rent their chairs and umbrellas for the space.

    As soon as I alighted from the car in the Maracas car park, a teenaged tout asked politely if I wanted a chair or umbrella.

    The scene on the beach resembled a slum overrun with the visual pollution of plastic beach chairs and umbrellas that numbered more than beachgoers. There were children in the water watched over by their guardians or parents on the water’s edge and a few spaces in the shade.

    One man who did not want to be named said “These two businessmen and lifeguards are filling up the beach with their chairs and umbrellas and then going and protest and complain about the number of chairs on the beach.

    “I would like the Government to ask the young fellas to produce police records and certificates of character before they could sell and interact with people on the beach.

    “There are all types of people on the beach, families, young children, seniors, visitors and some of these chair vendors are using obscene language, smoking marijuana, and fighting.

    “Most of these youths have matters before the courts and these same fellas are among people on the beach with their children which could be dangerous.”

    There was a murder in Tyrico Bay last year over beach chair ‘territory’, he recalled.

    Kimberly Lewis, 24, was chopped to death and her husband, Jonathan Garcia, 29 was stabbed about the body at their business/home, the Beach Viewers Mart, opposite the entrance to Tyrico Bay, on May 22, 2017.

    Police said the attack stemmed from a dispute with another couple two months before involving a neighbour’s missing beach chairs.

    The man suggested that the Government should charge the chair rental companies for use of the beach as they were using resources such as water to wash their chairs.

    He said the young men renting the chairs were running people from the beach since they had no training in etiquette.

    The man said this was becoming an all too frequent occurrence on the beach now when one group of young men would pitch their chairs and umbrellas on the beach and another group would come and throw the first group’s equipment away.

    Beach chairs an impediment to lifeguards, people feel harassed

    Myra Gosein, from Princes Town, said the umbrellas and chairs posed a potential life-saving hazard to the lifeguards in the event they had to respond to an emergency on the beach or water as their view was blocked by the umbrellas and the chairs presented an obstacle course for them to cover the distance to render assistance.

    Jon Mahabir, from St James, said for a while now he had been hesitant to bring his foreign family to the beach due to its overall poor condition.

    He said he was approached to rent chairs and they made it seem like it was a necessity and that he almost felt bullied into doing so.

    Mahabir said he usually carried a large beach mat that can comfortably fit four people and keep their belongings off the sand so he doesn’t usually use chairs.

    He said he had been to many famous beaches worldwide and beach chairs were by request only unless it was a private beach in which case the chairs were complimentary and were also heavily regulated at most popular beaches.

    Richard Robinson, from Cunupia, said he and his wife and other parents came with their children and members of their swim club (teens) to Maracas to train for the Maracas Open Water Swim Classic on September 16.

    He said there were constant badgering and throwing of words at them by the chair vendors for either not wanting to rent or being abusive when asked to move the chairs. Robinson said he would like the authorities to put some regulations in place for the use of the foreshore and beachfront at T&T’s beaches.

    He said commercial operators must be licenced and properly identified and the rules needed to be enforced when it came to illegal vending on the beaches.

    Robinson said people go to the beach to relax; not to shop.

    Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell did not return the Sunday Guardian’s messages on Friday.

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