Kuakata tourist police jet ski for rent
In periods of bad weather at Kuakata beach, the speedboats that could normally assist in rescue operations are unavailable. At such times the sole rescue vehicle is supposed to be a jet ski, locally known as a 'water bike,' operated by the tourist police. But rather than being at the ready to assist any swimmer, the jet ski is rented out for joyrides.
“I enjoyed a jet ski tour for Tk 300,” says Rafiqul Islam, a tourist from Narayanganj visiting Kuakata zero point.
“My son who studies in class seven recently paid Tk 200 for a five minute jet ski tour,” says Lija Akhter, a beachgoer from Patuakhali town.
Formed at the end of 2013 to ensure tourist safety and security, the tourist police began operations at Kuakata in 2015. With 45 officers and based in rented premises near the beachfront, the police were allocated a speedboat and a jet ski to operate as search and rescue vehicles.
But the jet ski has become a popular leisure activity for visiting thrill-seekers. Beyond making the vehicle not always available for rescues, the jet ski is itself a hazard to both swimmers and inexperienced riders.
“When the jet ski moves through the bathing zone at high speed,” says Md Belal Khalifa, president of the Kuakata speedboat owners' association, “it's a danger to bathers.” He also confirmed that the fifteen speedboats in the area are out-of-service during periods of rough weather.
Tourist police assistant sub-inspector Md Saidul Islam says the jet ski is being used for rescues. “On the day after Eid we rescued three tourists who got into trouble while swimming,” he says, noting that the vehicle is operated by a local youth trained by Yamaha, the Japanese company who manufactures the jet skis.
“If you wish to know about jet ski rental,” Saidul continues, “you can speak to the assistant superintendent of the tourist police Abdul Karim who organised for the youth to drive it.”
The assistant superintendent says the vehicle is used to patrol the beach area to ensure the safety of swimmers. “A local youth drives it,” he says, “because we don't have anyone trained to drive it well. And tourists can enjoy a ride on it.”
The Daily Star attempted to speak to the youth involved but he declined to comment.
“A government vehicle shouldn't be used for rental purposes,” said one tourist who requested anonymity.