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Rivière-Noire Demands Rs 100 Million for Road Resurfacing



Rivière-Noire Demands Rs 100 Million for Road Resurfacing

The increasing number of vacant plots of land in the West of the country, particularly in the Flic-en-Flac region, is causing concern.

“The new wealthy individuals are acquiring land as an investment. While there are not many public beaches left in Mauritius, the occupation and appropriation of land continue with more or less authorized projects, as seen in Flic-en-Flac, Albion, and Rivière-Noire where more and more vacant plots are popping up,” explains Veenabye Jeewajee, president of the Rivière-Noire district council.

Jeewajee has decided to tackle the issue head-on. “Recently, I requested a budget of Rs 100 million for resurfacing roads and cleaning up land in Bambous. The situation in Bambous needs to be taken very seriously. Otherwise, the situation could worsen,” she said.

She also mentioned that she had asked residents to clean up their land, and around 900 families have responded positively. “We want them to understand that we will take action if they do not comply,” she warned.

A former senior official from the Beau-Bassin/Rose-Hill municipality, who moved to Flic-en-Flac ten years ago, explained to Le-Mauricien that the municipality had previously tried to address the issue of abandoned land, mentioning that officers had even tried to fine the owners.

“But these actions were not enough,” said the source, emphasizing that “local authorities lack personnel and resources.”

In April of last year, the Rivière-Noire district council had to take a firmer stance by warning owners and heirs of vacant land, as well as those with rights to the land, that they were responsible for cleaning and fencing them off.

They were given a 15-day deadline to comply, in accordance with the amended Local Government Act, Article 61.

The goal was to reduce the proliferation of rats and mosquitoes, which can spread diseases.

The council also targeted illegal garbage dumps and abandoned vehicles and carcasses on these lands. After the 15-day deadline, any violators faced a maximum fine of Rs 25,000.

Furthermore, according to articles 61(9) and (10) of the law, the district council can clean up land that poses a danger to the health and safety of citizens, with the expenses incurred by the owners. Has this exercise been successful?

To find out, Le-Mauricien sought Veenabye Jeewajee on Thursday morning to know the number of violations that have been issued since April 2023. Jeewajee responded that not all the figures had been compiled yet.

An former village councillor of Flic-en-Flac believes that the issue of vacant land stems from land speculation. “Many Mauritians who went to work abroad bought land in Mauritius hoping to sell it later at a high price,” he explained.

A senior official of the Rivière-Noire district council believes that authorities are not responding appropriately. He points out that Article 51 of the Local Government Act allows them to take action.

“The legal framework is there but there is no political will. The solution is at hand, but nothing is being done. And that’s where we are today,” he admits.

However, villagers face other problems. One concern raised by residents of Cigogne Street in Flic-en-Flac is the “disorder caused by employees working under contract for a road maintenance service.”

They say that on December 28th, these employees pruned trees and left the branches on the roadside, even blocking nearby drainage channels.

“If we had heavy rainfall, it could have caused flooding on this street,” points out Jayen, who purchased an apartment on the same street three years ago.

Testimony: Jayen worked as a welder at a sugar mill in the West until 2005 when he left Mauritius to go to Tanzania.

Ten years later, he returned to the country hoping for a peaceful life. However, he claims that his life has become a nightmare.

“My life has become hell,” he says. According to him, neighbors dump their trash on a vacant lot next to his house.

“Since the land is unoccupied, it attracts stray dogs looking for food in the garbage. The situation is getting more complicated day by day,” he explained.

Source: Le Mauricien

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