Yesterday morning, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth was interviewed via video conference on BBC News. He was questioned on the oil spillage caused after the grounding of MV Wakashio near Pointe d'Esny.
Video posted by People's Press on YouTube.
P. K. Jugnauth was interviewed by the BBC news presenter Samantha Simmonds.
Coming up I'll be talking to the Prime Minister of #Mauritius as an oil spill threatens the pristine water and eco system - the country is preparing for a 'worst case scenario' as large cracks appear in the hull of a cargo ship leaking oil off the coast— Samantha Simmonds (@samanthaTVnews) August 12, 2020
A lot of Mauritians were baffled by the statement of the Prime Minister as he answered the news presenter as to why the government took longer than two weeks to declare an emergency. His answer indicated that the government relied on the advice of the salvage team, calling them the "experts" repeatedly. Note that the salvage team has been contracted by the owner of MV Wakashio and the latter's P&I Club.
A lot of Mauritians deplore the lack of consideration on the authorities part to involve local inhabitants, fishermen and amateur boaters who know and understand the sea in that particular part of Mauritius. The authorities also seem to have neglected the risk to wetlands in that area including two of the three Ramsar sites in Mauritius, as no protection, no installation of oil booms, was done by the authorities around those areas.
The two affected Ramsar sites are:
- Blue Bay Marine Park (nominated on 31 January 2008)
- Pointe d'Esny (nominated on 16 September 2011)
Furthermore, Samantha Simmonds on two occasions during the interview, mentioned that the Mauritian people are asking for the Prime Minister to apologize. She questions P. K. Jugnauth whether he will apologize to the Mauritian people. The Prime Minister dodges that question and comments about how his government managed the COVID-19 outbreak and complains about criticism from his political opponents.
The interview ended abruptly due to an internet connection failure. It cannot be said for sure whether the connection problem occurred on the BBC's or the Prime Minister's end.
Following the Prime Minister's interview, memes and negative comments on the latter flooded Facebook. I will not re-post or share those comments/memes in this blog post for obvious reasons.
In his press conference on the same day, where l'express journalists were once again prevented from attending & putting questions to the Prime Minister, the latter was questioned by a journalist about his BBC interview. P. K. Jugnauth replied, in my opinion, with a display of arrogance. He retorted:
Mem si li apel BBC, so what? Ve dir kwa?
The Prime Minister's lack of humility did the opposite in calming the anger of the Mauritian people who blame P. K. Jugnauth and his administration for the incompetency in handling the Wakashio shipwreck and oil spillage that caused:
- damage to several hundreds of metres of thousand years old coral reefs,
- immediate threat to the lives of sea creatures (due to toxic materials from the oil spill),
- immediate threat to the lives of land creatures that depend on the sea (e.g endemic birds, turtles, etc),
- long term threat to the mangroves,
- health hazards to local inhabitants,
- threat to the livelihood of local inhabitants, just to name a few.