One of the requirements of democracy is the accountability of government, [and its ministers] for its [and their] actions. Not just the far reaching actions but also the seemingly benign ones which provoke a twitch in the eyebrows. If Mauritius is indeed a democracy the antics of the extravagant minister Showkutally Soodhun should not be forever unquestioned . This self-proclaimed Minister of Hadj and Islamic Affairs, popularly known as Minister of Beef and Mutton for some, or Minister of Meat for others returned from Saudi Arabia in a private jet, apparently with some mysterious excess luggage and went directly to hospital. Mauritian in the past has shown in the past that they don’t approve of politicians displaying jet set manners and so-called class. So what about Soodhun’s latest foolery?
Now is there no hospital in Saudi Arabia? Did he want to impress us with this private jet? Whose jet is it? Was the airlift free, or will the Mauritian taxpayer pay the bill? What’s the mystery about the luggage? How did he get sciatic pain? Has he been weightlifting in Saudi Arabia? Some answers would be welcome.
The Curepipe-Port-Louis Light Rail Transit project is back on tracks renamed Metro Express. Initially estimated at around Rs25 billions the Lepep Alliance (which during the electoral campaign promised to scrap the project) government now has the pretension of building it with more expensive aerial technologies at as much as 20% cheaper total cost. After the failed economic miracle that will be be an attempt at a technological/financial miracle.
Minister Nando Bodha some time ago mentioned that the National Transport Corporation carries 6 million passengers per year. Assuming that the CNT has a 25% of public transport [it has a probably a larger share] and that 40% of the island’s traffic goes through the Curepipe-Port-Louis corridor, the number of daily passengers on that axis [now served by CNT, UBS, and RHT] would be* 26,300.
To cover the Rs20 billion investment in 10 years would require daily revenues of Rs5,474,952 or a ticket at Rs208, that is, Rs 416 daily. Large spaces will be converted to [free? I doubt it]] parking lots at each stations where the Metro passengers leave their cars for the day. Spaces will also be provided at those stations for the hawkers now being thrown off the streets by local authorities. While waiting for the Metro or before taking back their cars the park-and-ride passengers can visit the hawkers to buy sliced bitter gourd, Rs10 underwear, and cheap reject articles to cover the Rs416 fare.
On the issue of operational cost let’s not forget that there is a peak in traffic towards Port-Louis in the morning and from Port-Louis in the afternoon, with a lull in both directions in the middle of the day. This pattern is the worst scenario for cost of operation. The cause of this uneven flow is due to the fact that most jobs are is in Port-Louis while the other towns are mainly residential. Good luck with changing all that just to become the 7th [too late for being the first] country in Africa with a LRT system.
*(40% of 6000000×4)/365