Lifeguards work in deteriorating towers as brand new ones sit unused

Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 at 6:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City lifeguards are raising alarms over towers they say are in disrepair.

And they say the city is dragging its feet in installing new towers it purchased last August for more than $200,000.

“Our towers are dilapidated, falling apart. There’s holes in the floor. Some of them have plywood and different things," said Chris, who has worked as a city lifeguard for more than a decade.

Several lifeguards submitted photos to Hawaii News Now to document the deteriorating conditions of their guard towers across Oahu. The lifeguards asked Hawaii News Now to hide their identities for fear of retaliation.

Chris said he’s been warning the city for more than a year about a tower in Waikiki, whose steps have been washed away. He said it poses a risk for lifeguards who need to jump to the ground when they leave the tower.

“It’s almost a 3 foot drop onto the sand and rocks," he said.

The city finally installed new stairs on the tower last week after HNN sent the city photos of the missing steps.

The city Ocean Safety Division said it “is well aware of some of the rough shape these towers are in."

“We are working diligently to replace them,” an Ocean Safety spokeswoman said.

But Chris said the city isn’t doing enough.

“Why do we have these towers that are falling apart when we have (new) towers right there at our headquarters," he said.

He’s referring to four new towers, which have been sitting in a city baseyard for more than six months.

The city paid $55,000 for each of the towers and plans to buy four more.

“What are they doing in the yard? They should be on the beach. It’s a matter of safety," said City Council Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.

The city said hiring a contractor under city procurement rules takes time. It added that it only recently started that process after finding out it has the money in this year’s budget.

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