SIDON, Lebanon: An unusual, eco-friendly watercraft made its maiden voyage in Sidon Sunday morning.
Sidon’s Ghad Scouts Association was testing its homemade water bike - a pedal-powered vessel that cost a mere $6.50 to build - at the beach near Sidon’s Zaatari Mosque.
The craft was built from a resourceful combination of plastic piping, an old bike frame and wooden flaps that function as propellers.
The project sought to showcase teamwork, camaraderie and commitment to the environment, Ghad Scouts Association leader Hafez Abu Thaher said.
“We used an old bike frame and put it on a floating structure,” Abu Thaher said.
Ahmad, one of the new vessel’s captains, at first failed to ride the bike after losing his balance on the water and being turning upside-down by the strong waves in the sea. Nevertheless, he eventually succeeded in getting back up on the floating bike and riding it in the sea, with his colleagues breaking into a loud applause.
Abu Thaher said the original structure of the bike had undergone different amendments in order to make it suitable for the sea.
For instance, the scouts removed the front tire of the bike and replaced it with wooden pieces that would help the riders steer the craft more easily. The float on the bike is attached to two pipes. The reuse of materials reflects the scouts’ commitment to giving the items a second life, Abu Thaher said.
“A scout’s work is not just about scouts’ duties and playing music.
“It is also about cooperation, joint work, artistic endeavors, environmental care and nature conservation,” the scout leader told The Daily Star.
“As part of scouting duties, we get the scouts to care for the sea and nature,” he added.
The issue of conservation and the preservation of nature hits close to home for Sidon residents. For years, the historic seaport city was blighted by a large trash mountain on its coast. While the area was eventually transformed into a park, the city has faced numerous challenges in waste management. Last summer, protesters temporarily shut down a nearby waste treatment facility they said was producing foul smells.
Sidon’s trash woes are typical of those faced by municipalities across the country.
On June 3, Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati submitted a road map to Prime Minister Saad Hariri to fix the country’s chronic trash crisis.
The plan, which proposes incineration facilities and a new sanitary landfill, was criticized by activists, who want to reduce the amount of waste Lebanon produces.
While the road map does call for “activating” the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste within two years of its adoption, it did not set standards for these activities.
Regardless of national policies, the Ghad Scouts Association is looking to contribute to reducing waste and reusing materials in their neck of the woods.
After receiving unwanted bicycle skeletons, Abu Thaher said that the scouts were going to work on producing bikes similar to the seafaring one they unveiled Sunday.