Pradeep Jeeha
Pradeep Jeeha

In the wake of the MV WAKASHIO’s wreck on the coral reef of Point D’Esny and it’s being stuck there for 13 days before starting to release its oil in our lagoon a few questions need to be answered by our Government in this worst oil spill of our history.

First how and WHY could such a huge vessel enter into the Mauritian waters and come so close to our shores without attracting anybody’s attention. We are no longer living in the days of Mark Twain. We are instead boasting to live-in high-income country with Artificial Intelligence, Nano technology, Big data and what not.

Listening to the statement of the Prime Minister one would really feel sorry for little Mauritius. “We don’t have any equipment and storage capacity to face this situation” he said. Is it so really? A close look at the last National Oil Spill Plan prepared by UNEP tells a different tale. The country according to the said report is fully geared to face an oil spill. The Police and the National Coast Guards are fully equipped to face such a calamity
if ever it occurs. Is the UNEP report a hoax?

The Prime Minister and his cohort are at the helm of this country since 2014. Have they not drawn any lesson from the Since the wreck of MV Benita in 2016.Environmentalists have been raising the alarm all the time at the cost of being arbitrarily arrested under the ICTA Act and being locked down? Government has ignored their calls.” “I am the prime Minister. I know better what to do” said Prime Minister. Then why are facing this toxic spill today? What was done since 2016 to 2020 to avert another shipwreck in our pristine waters?

A vessel enters our waters illegally since 23rd of July as shown on nano satellite images available yet nothing is done during 48 hours to stop its trajectory. Ten hours before it hit us the National Coast guard was informed by local residents about a lifeboat and new life vests lying on the beach. Did any ship crew land in Mauritius before the vessel got stuck? What did the Police do to track any trespasser or drug peddler on the island? Even when the vessel got stuck on the reef no immediate action was taken. Did our coastal surveillance teams have powder in their eyes?

According to “Forbes” it’s only four days after the collision that the National Coast Guard appeared on the scene. While the MBC was busy promoting the image of the Prime Minister, the nation had to switch to France 24, Al Jazeera and Kuwait news to assess the real impact of the wreck with clear satellite images as to the extent of the spill in the South East. Apart from the impact on the livelihood of the coastal villagers many volunteers are exposing themselves to clean up the spill without knowing how these toxic hydrocarbons may impact their health. In Lebanon the whole Government has resigned after the explosion in the port of Beirut. In Mauritius it is business as usual. “Everything is under control” dixit Kavi Ramano the Environment Minister. What is the use of these so-called secret defense and surveillance agreements that we have signed with India and other states? We also have agreements with India on ICTs giving us the help of Indian satellites to track any trespassers in our EEZ. Imagine for a moment that the MV WAKASHIO was a warship.

Last but not least since December 2019 Mauritius has supposedly deployed a nano satellite (MIR-SAT1) from the International Space Station (ISS) to efficiently collect and process land and ocean data coming from space.

This big data analysis according to the then minister for ICTs would lead to better monitoring, decision- making and management of both land-based and maritime activities, and advancements in capacity-building, research and development and innovation, which will ultimately benefit the people of Mauritius, he stated.

Where is that satellite? Where are the images it has collected if any? Who is the recipient of the satellite images? What have they done with the same since 23rd July 2020? Will anybody in Government dare clarify the situation in these oily waters?

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