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‘Ruisseau du Pouce’ Dismantling: Serve Notice or Amend Law ?



'Ruisseau du Pouce' Dismantling: Serve Notice or Amend Law ?
Image source: Le Mauricien

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management, Anwar Husnoo, has shed light on the complex issue of concrete structures that need to be demolished in the capital due to their obstruction of water flow.

The KFC building and the parking lots of Rogers and Air Mauritius have been highlighted in reports published by former judge Bushan Domah and Senior Magistrate Ida Dookhy-Rambarun in 2008 and 2015 respectively.

In response to a question from MP Adil Ameer Meea in Parliament, Anwar Husnoo emphasized that these constructions were authorized by Acts of Parliament in 1992 and that the law would need to be amended or a notice served to the companies concerned for them to be dismantled. Adil Ameer Meea expressed frustration at the slow progress of the procedures.

It is becoming clearer why the city council is facing difficulties in compelling KFC, Rogers & Co Ltd, and Air Mauritius to demolish their concrete structures overlooking the Pouce Stream, a major water evacuation route to the sea in Port Louis.

Despite repeated questioning from the press and vendors at the Pouce Stream market, Mayor Mamode Isoop Nujurally has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation, due to disagreements with the central government.

It took Adil Ameer Meea’s questioning of Minister Anwar Husnoo to finally bring an end to months of speculation, prompting action at the market where around fifty former street vendors have been operating since 2006.

“To demolish the concrete structures, the law must be amended,” stated Anwar Husnoo, who further explained that the case has been referred to the Ministry of Lands and Housing and then to the Attorney General for legal advice.

In response to a follow-up question, Adil Ameer Meea learned that the Attorney General recommended serving a notice to MK, Rogers, and KFC instead of amending the law.

The MP expressed frustration that the notice had not yet been served to the three companies.

With a Supreme Court case filed by the Pouce Stream vendors set to be heard on June 17, authorities need to expedite legal procedures to adhere to the recommendations made by Senior Magistrate Ida Dookhy-Rambarun in 2015 following an investigation into the causes of the deadly floods in Port Louis in 2013.

A report has highlighted the concrete structure covering the Pouce Stream and Pouce Canal, as well as the supporting columns, as contributing factors to flooding incidents.

On March 26, 2008, four people drowned in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lola and heavy rains, a tragic event often overshadowed by the devastating floods that claimed the lives of 11 Mauritians on March 30, 2013.

A Fact-Finding Committee chaired by Judge Bushan Domah, along with Ranjitrai Vaghjee and Jacques Rosalie, was established to investigate the 2008 incident and made recommendations, including the demolition of structures built over the Pouce Stream.

During the 2008 storm, rivers overflowed, homes and schools were flooded, cars damaged, and bridges became impassable.

Over 48 hours, rainfall reached 564.8 mm in Grande Providence, 476.3 mm in Fuel, 459 mm in Bel-Étang, and 453.3 mm in Mont Loisir.

The tragedy struck in Mon-Goût, a village near Pamplemousses, when 14-year-old Laura Paul, a student at Merton College, was swept away by the Citron River while returning home from school. The death toll later rose.

Criticism arose regarding inaccurate weather forecasts, the lack of a torrential rain alert, and the decision to keep schools open despite hazardous weather conditions.

In response, the government appointed Judge Bushan Domah to lead a committee to make recommendations following the catastrophe.

Suggestions included dismantling barriers impeding water flow, constructing a national drainage network to divert water into reservoirs instead of the ocean, creating a Flood Risk Map to identify at-risk areas, and equipping the meteorological service adequately.

Sixteen years later, many of these recommendations remain unimplemented, leading to loss of life.

On the 11th anniversary of the tragic death of 11 individuals in Port Louis during the 2013 floods, a commemoration ceremony was held near Rogers House, attended by the victims’ families and politicians.

Moving forward, authorities should remember all Mauritians who have lost their lives since 2008 in preventable circumstances.

Source: Le Mauricien

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