LALIT held a press conference on Monday 8th April to comment on the tragic floods of 30 March, at three levels; firstly leading member Ram Seegobin commented on the flooding tragedy in the country and its political implications. He expressed LALIT’s solidarity and condolences with those affected by the flash floods that took place between 1:30 and 3:00 pm on Saturday 30 March. He said that the floods were so sudden that he cannot imagine what could have been done once they were upon us that could have alleviated the suffering they provoked, but that since 2008 with the Domah Report, and especially since February 2013 when Place du Quay was dangerously under water already, as if in warning, nothing at all was done by the Authorities. He also gave, as a case study, the absurd irresponsibility of the State and the Government of refusing to take note of LALIT’s and LPTs repeated warnings about the dangers to the Canal Dayot area, where our offices are, of exactly this kind of flooding. All the terrible losses were a direct result of the Government’s negligence or fault in building a wall that prevented flood-waters from taking their usual course. This put into danger the families of Canal Dayot, by suppressing a normal water-way during floods, and causing the Canal Dayot to flood its banks. This first part of our press conference, a generalized critique of the Labour Party’s handling of the problem of flooding around Port Louis, given by Ram Seegoin was clearly the major part of LALIT’s press conference. The MBC, in its report, continued its tradition of pretending Ram Seegobin did not speak at the press conference. The MBC in fact pretended we had not had this part of the Press Conference at all. The only time that the MBC has had Ram Seegobin speak in one of its programs was when they were short of someone brainy enough to take on Joseph Stiglitz, and that was in February, 2011. Otherwise, it has been a 30 year black out.
Secondly, Central Committee member Cindy Clelie, outlined the damage done to material goods of LALIT in terms of the tools of militant action (computers, polycopiers, printers, and so on) as well as the loss of valuable archives of peoples’ actions over the past 30-40 years and still ongoing now, and she also spoke of the massive contribution we have had from people in terms of hours given to re-establish order after the invasion of mud into our premises and into each shelf of what she called “the living archives”, and of actual material donations made spontaneously. She said how younger members like herself benefit from the democratic aspect of such a big shared documentation centre.
Thirdly, Lindsey Collen spoke on how LALIT was picking up after the disaster, by first decentralizing to operate more dynamically at Branch level, and she noted the Branch Meetings being held today, tomorrow, Thursday and Sunday in different villages and towns; while the party is organizing our Labour day celebrations on the theme of “What Labour Law?” at the party headquarters, and also re-constituting our archives and our militant machinery in the meantime. She said we would rely rather more on our website for a while, when our bi-monthly Magazine was being delayed a month or so because of the floods, a website that gets 30,000 hits per month, a figure that is stable over the past three years or so.
Then the Press present, but not the MBC whose staff had already left, did a guided tour of the damage done downstairs by the floods and the mud, of the vibrant workshop going on upstairs (one group of people saving documents, while others were constructing a partition of the hall to prepare for further digitization of our archives), and of the operation of “breeching the 16” thick re-enforced concrete wall constructed by the Government just below our premises. This wall, it would seem, was built with no other raison d’etre than to cause a total “swimming pool effect” for LALIT and our neighbours; sub-contractors of Government had started a very timid attempt to break a passage through the wall. After 3 hours, they were able to make a 1” diameter hole in the concrete abomination of a wall 5 metres tall.
The MBC staff, having disappeared for over an hour, popped up again. They now had instructions to film the damage done, and also the reconstruction work on documentation.
Tomorrow work on destroying a part of the wall in Grand River North West will resume at 7:30 am, the subcontractors promise. However, the Gender Ministry has a huge gate in the front of their not-yet-in use Drop in Centre for Battered women and children, which is under lock and key, and which it is essential to get entry into in order to complete the breaking open of the wall. LALIT has been attempting to contact the Minister for Gender about this problem, which is seriously compromising the attempt to open up a way for the natural flow of floodwater to the sea to be re-established.
With a cyclone building in the vicinity right now and on a trajectory that looks to be heading this way, the delay in breeching this absurd wall represents a danger to eveyone living in the area.