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Mireille Martin, Floods in GRNW, & the Common Good


LALIT has pleasure in publishing the Communique below by Ledikasyon pu Travayer. It is an analysis of the nature of the Labour Party State apparatus, as made clear by its dealing with the effects of the floods at Canal Dayot earlier this year.


The state of the State

The Gender Minister Mireille Martin insisted before the Supreme Court that the safety “hole” that the State had broken through the Gender Ministry Wall at GRNW after the catastrophic flooding of 30 March be re-built quickly so that her Drop-In Centre can become operational. She fails to see the general effect of her blind persistence, but is trapped into her tunnel-vision. This “Drop-In” Centre, incidentally, is quite hard to drop out of because it has prison-style re-enforced concrete walls, walls that dangerously block the natural path of floodwaters off the Royal Road at the level of GRNW in front of the LPT Building.

Ms Martin and her “miray” are a lesson to all of us about the terrible state of the State of Mauritius.
The State is supposed to protect the common good, not just extricate itself from any one problem at the expense of creating another. Let us see what has happened in the case of the notorious “Miray Gender”, also called “Miray Martin”.

The Gender Ministry engineers responsible for the wall clearly did not know that there was a “cours d’eau” through the Gender property from time immemorial. So, they constructed a first huge wall (4 metres high!) right across a natural “cours d’eau”, a safety valve for the whole area. LPT objected at the time of construction a few years back. There is a whole dossier of letters to the State. LPT even formally reported the danger to the Line Barracks Police, who did a site visit at the time. Construction was effectively halted for some three months. Then not only did the Gender Ministry complete the offending wall, but it put a second equally grotesque wall on the other side of its property, and proceeded with an equally “sauvage” land-fill inbetween the two, which now acts as its pizwar for both its sanitation and to absorb rain. One big colossal fait-accompli.
This outrageous construction clearly exacerbated the flooding in the Canal Dayot area on 30 March.

You do not need a degree in civil engineering to see that this is true.
So much so that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, fearful of further flash-floods, wisely if reluctantly, broke a 2-metre by 2-metre hole in the offending wall, planning to put a large drain through the Gender Ministry property, as should have been done in the first place, so that the Royal Road would no longer be mortally threatened in the case of future severe flooding, as a result of the construction sauvage by the State.

But, the Gender Minister just went on and on about how she has to open “her” drop-in centre. Eventually, workmen arrived, trespassing, to fill in the hole in the wall that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure had opened up.
LPT and a neighbour with a house behind LPT’s property had no alternative but to seek a Writ of Injunction against the re-building of the breached wall, and to attempt to call for proper drainage of the area through this rather rough legal tool.

What is curious is that LPT and its neighbour were arguing not only for their “individual” good, but for the common good of all users of the Royal Road and for all the properties in the vicinity. A proper drain through the Gender Ministry land will help everyone. Not only that. Both LPT and its neighbour actually offer to continue allowing part of their own land to act as a “cours d’eau” for the common good. The Gender Ministry did the contrary and continues to do the contrary. They build two walls, do a land-fill, and block flood-waters, causing problems up to the Royal Road. Anything, so long as the Drop-In Centre can open.

The legal team from the State Law Office, under pressure from Minister Martin, insisted before the Supreme Court, on the speedy closing up the wall so that she could open her Centre. The State refused to look at the big picture, but fell in behind Minister Martin’s tunnel vision.

And so, LPT and its neighbour were forced to accept a “solution”, which helps us in the case of minor flooding, but risks harming everyone using the Royal Road and our other neighbours. What has thus happened is that the State has, at its own expense, in terms of the Order of the Supreme Court Writ of Injunction, built a hump in front of the LPT building, just so that the Gender Minister can close up the wall of the Gender Centre again and open her Centre.

The hole in the wall was closed up last week.

The hump was duly completed the day before the rains of Wednesday 27 November. The concrete was only just set. The rain was quite heavy. LPT and its neighbour were spared any flooding. The hump did its trick.

However, the absurdity of the situation is that the “solution” LPT was forced to agree to, caused the Royal Road to be flooded. It was under more than one-foot of water just in front of the LPT building. This required four traffic cops just to prevent a catastrophe with the swimming pool effect on the Royal Road. What with motor-cycles, cars, pedestrians, buses, lorries, cyclists, all splashing about pell-mell in one big dam which included the road and the side-walks. Both the Assembly of God and the National Car Centre, LPT’s two immediate neighbours on the sides, were badly flooded, too.

The second measure that the Government has to institute to prevent flooding at LPT, in accordance with the Supreme Court Order, is to install a water-proof gate on top of the hump, giving a further 60 cms of protection.
Evidently the Assembly of God and the National Car Centre will have to seek similar “individual” solutions, of humps and water-proof gates.

Then the Royal Road will be in even bigger trouble.

All because Ms. Martin can see no further than the wall of her Gender Drop In Centre. And the State Law Office just followed behind her in her tunnel vision.
How can the State take less care of the common good than an ordinary association like LPT and an ordinary citizen, like LPT’s neighbour, Mr. Chan? Surely when the next flood comes along, Minister of Public Infrastructure Baichoo will have to pay the political price for Ms. Martin’s folly. Surely the whole Labour Government will have to pay the price, too.

This is just one small indication of the state of the State.

December 2013