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Clancy Philippe


I cry for my beloved country

I regularly travel to and spend time in Mauritius. I just returned from a two-week stay with a very sad feeling about the state of things past and present in that beautiful country of ours. Very sad to see how the previous government starting with the ex Prime Minister was literally short changing the whole Mauritian community, bordering on African style dictatorship. What I heard from persons with good connections with the previous and past government, persons of influence, read from the media and conversations within all social circles will make you shudder.

The current government agenda promises to take actions to redress the previous wrong doings and bring to justice the offending parties. The diverted astronomical sums of monies located in private coffers, sheltered bank accounts and invested on behalf of well known parties, would be more than enough to fund numerous infrastructure projects that could deliver immediate benefits to the suffering community.

I have noticed a very marked change in people’s attitude and expression. Most persons I have met continually express their disappointment and discontent. When one is suffering to make both ends meet and you read every day in the papers of the excesses by persons in positions of influence, it is inevitable that your state of mind deteriorates to the point of bitterness and anger. Options for many to get out of this situation are very few, if not inexistent. Enjoying the lifestyle that I enjoy in Australia makes this even more evident. You can see the stress on people’s faces. Someone told me that the smiling faces and traditional people’s happiness one encounters when in Mauritius are now almost gone.

Whilst I have spent thirty three of my forty five working years outside Mauritius, I still harbour sentimental and caring feeling for my beautiful motherland. I left Mauritius in 1982 after a stay of nine years working at the Ministry of Works and as Town Engineer with the Municipality of Curepipe respectively. I left because my engineering career was at a dead end with no prospects of professional fulfilment. Even more challenging, was the fact that my two sons were facing a very bleak future job wise. Australia offered both professional fulfilment and a secure future for the family. So we left and to this day, I do not regret having done so. Australia, despite the current challenges, is still the best place on earth to live. I now call Australia Home, but Mauritius remains the place where “mo lombril enterer” and my beloved motherland.

I am now seeing incredible infrastructure failures from flooding. I accept that extreme flooding will always take place and affect people. However, allowing people to build within flood ways and not taking any actions to remedy this situation is inacceptable. Blocking major storm water drainage outlets, such as in Caudan (Port Louis), is very close to incompetence and irresponsibility. Roadwise, during my travels, I could not help noticing serious signs of road pavement distress. For example, I travelled on the Chamarel road, from Chamarel Village to the Varangue sur Morne restaurant and could not help noticing severe pavement distress. A telling sign that something is very wrong there. Lack of drainage to protect the road pavement and inadequate retaining walls, will surely (I hope not) result if road failure. In such an environment, this can be catastrophic with loss of lives. I sincerely hope that the authorities will take remedial actions before such things happen.

Serious infrastructure planning, with an integrated and long term program is very critical. Doing nothing is not an option. This will lead to worst problems and issues that will cost even more to fix. Good infrastructure planning pays for itself in better infrastructure performance and substantial reduction in reactive damage repairs and emergency actions. Investment in proper infrastructure planning leads to better infrastructure performance and lower operational and maintenance costs. Good infrastructure planning pays for itself. More so, it creates a better living environment and promotes good land development. Towns like Beau Bassin, Rosehill, Port Louis and Quatre Bornes are rapidly turning into a ghetto style living environment. Point of no return will be soon reached if nothing is done. There is no better time than now to start. It will take time, but you have to start the process. If you do nothing, nothing happens.

I was asked by the Minister for Infrastructure, to ring his office for a meeting with him to share some of my thoughts on potential options for improving the road and drainage infrastructure in Mauritius. I intended to share with him my own experience and expertise in the field. I rang his office and spoke to his secretary for an appointment. The latter told me that she would ring back. Nothing happened, despite a personal request to the Minister via a sitting Member of Parliament. I was very disappointed with this zero outcome.

Engineers in Mauritius, I am surprised that you are not putting pressure on the government to start serious investment in an adequate infrastructure planning process that would promote long term investment in infrastructure. Minister, you have the opportunity to create the necessary environment and undertake the urgent task of preparing and implementing an infrastructure plan over the short and long term. Most importantly, you can set the agenda to address the serious shortfalls in storm water drainage and road infrastructure currently facing the whole Mauritian Community. Good infrastructure planning pays for itself.

In conclusion, paradise is rapidly changing into hell for many. The current government in many ways has saved the country from becoming a real ‘banana republic”. I sincerely hope that they maintain the agenda to clean up past wrong doings. However, this new government should start the visionary process of planning for a better Mauritius. Infrastructure Planning is an essential component of this plan. Please put as much energy into this as you are putting into bringing to justice the wrongdoers and offending parties. The whole Mauritian Community present and future will be forever thankful.

Clancy Philippe