GIS – 03 April 2013: The Prime Minister, Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, stated in the National Assembly yesterday that the facts and figures concerning the quantity, intensity and suddenness of the Saturday last heavy rains testify to the fact that the country was indeed the victim of flash floods on that day. He was replying to the Private Notice Question of the Leader of the Opposition on this issue.
These floods have killed 11 persons. Six drowned in the underpass near Rogers House, two were trapped in the Harbour Front Car Park, one drowned at La Chaussée Street, another along la Poudrière Street, and one lady at Canal Dayot passed away reportedly due to emotional shock. With regard to those who unfortunately lost their lives, as per existing legal provisions, a judicial enquiry into the cause of each death will necessarily be carried out, said the Prime Minister.
According to the Prime Minister, the Meteorological Services detected a zone of instability since Thursday 28 March 2013 in the morning which was expected to affect Mauritius during the weekend. This situation, the Meteorological Services predicted would coincide with a jet stream, thus intensifying the instability. But, it was difficult to predict the timing and the precise location of the incident.
On Saturday 30 March 2013, at 04.30 hours the Meteorological Services predicted the persistence of unstable atmospheric conditions with heavy showers on the Central Plateau, in the East and South. However, in the early afternoon, a sudden outbreak of heavy showers caused massive local flooding in a limited area.
It is to be noted that 15 mm of rain fell in just six minutes, that is, between 14.12 hours and 14.18 hours on Saturday 30 March. For the Prime Minister, these are the hard facts, and give the lie to those who are still in a denial mode as to the impact of climate change. “Even in the most advanced countries with the most sophisticated equipment, it is not possible to predict such events precisely”, Dr. Ramgoolam added.
Moreover, as from 13.35 hrs on Saturday 30 March 2013, Inspector Matar, Traffic Branch and the Police Press Office intervened on Radio Plus, Top FM and the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) and warned the public to be cautious on the roads because of the heavy rainfall particularly in Port Louis. The same message was broadcast on MBC in Bhojpuri by Police Constable Jhugroo, Traffic Branch. During these live broadcast, road users were warned to be very cautious and were strongly advised to avoid using the roads in Port Louis, the Prime Minister further added in his reply.
He explained that even though the Meteorological Services did not issue any warning for torrential rains conditions, a Special Crisis Committee of the National Disaster and Operations Coordination Committee was convened under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Police. Given the urgency of the prevailing situation, all available personnel and units from the Police including the Special Mobile Force, the Special Supporting Unit, the National Coast Guard and the Traffic Branch were already deployed in the affected areas. The Special Crisis Committee organised, directed and monitored all police deployment and operations island-wide and in particular in Port Louis.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that urgent clearing and dredging of the river Canal Dayot have started on the very next day, that is, the 31 of March. New embankments with an enlarged capacity of Canal Dayot will be constructed. Government will also rehabilitate all damaged roads, drains, and other infrastructures for which an assessment is being carried out.
Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam informed the House that from 2005 to 2013, the Government has spent a total of Rs3.7 billion in the construction of drains and bridges.The Prime Minister has also initiated action to have a team of experts comprising of engineers and natural disaster management specialists from Singapore and UK to review the overall strategy of dealing with flooding and minimising its effects.
For the Prime Minister, Government will spare no efforts to ensure the safety of the Mauritian nation. Dr. Ramgoolam also paid a tribute to private citizens and organisations which displayed a spontaneous élan de patriotism and solidarity, as well as to all the emergency and rescue services who have been working day in day out to save lives and to assist in the rehabilitation works.
Given that a number of people and private companies have expressed their spontaneous willingness to make financial contribution to the
relief efforts under way, such donations will be channelled through the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to those afflicted by those calamities.
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