Democracy Watch Mauritius

41 since January 2023: 41 deaths too many!

Despite numerous measures and various sensitization campaigns launched by Government, fatal road accidents are still making headlines:  the CARNAGE continues. 

The increasing number of vehicles on our roads may be sign of economic prosperity, but alongside the number of accidents and deaths is on the rise. Our much-improved public transport system (metro + buses) provides the alternative to private cars, which are often driven with only one passenger per car! Tiny MAURITIUS with its 2,040 sq km of land CANNOT continue adding 18,000 new vehicles per year

There are many causes of road accidents. Speeding is by far the main reason, followed by driving while drunk or drugged. Other causes include poor road conditions, indiscipline among drivers, poorly maintained vehicles, insufficient or simply erased road signs, carelessness and, at times, racing on public roads, which is nothing less than CRIMINAL. If everyone drove with care, within legal speed limits, with due care for other drivers, there should be ZERO deaths on public roads. Private and commercial drivers, two-wheel drivers, vehicle importers and garage mechanics, insurers, Police, lawmakers and ministers responsible, schools, the press, pedestrians, you and me, could ALL combine efforts to reach this result. How much suffering, let alone economic loss would be avoided.

The dented image of the Police Force

The recent radio programmes on private radios have unleashed a flurry of serious criticisms of our Police Force. The latest action by some Opposition parties took the shape of street demonstration and press conferences in the centre of Port-Louis by the public on Saturday17 June, demanding the disbandment of the Special Striking Team and the interdiction of its leader.

Should we be surprised of this state of affairs? We have written a number of articles, drawing the attention of the Prime Minister and the Police Commissioner to the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to take remedial action in the public interest. Have our concerns and suggestions fallen on deaf ears?

In our bulletin of the 23 November 2022, Democracy Watch noted that “the police force was the target of quite severe criticisms from different quarters and that some of the Police investigations were forcefully challenged in court”. We also remarked that the police seemed to be on losing ground and its credibility at stake.

Conscious of the importance of an efficient Police Force in our democracy, we suggested in the same bullet in that “the CP should take the bold initiative of addressing the population and reassure the public that he has a strategy to steer the police force to a reasonable level of credibility”. We encouraged him to face the nation.

Did he listen to the voice of reason? Just a couple of police communiques. That was all. Instead of facing the nation, the CP thought it right to authorise the SST leader to go on a private radio last week. Was that a sensible decision? The attempt of the SST leader to reply to the onslaught of criticisms seems to have failed. The public was far from convinced. In fact, there is now tremendous support for a complete overhaul of the Police Force. Unfortunately, the CP was already in hot waters. We regret he did not act on good suggestions offered to him.

How will the situation evolve if no action is taken by the Prime Minister who is the minister responsible for overseeing the police force and to whom the CP should seek guidance on important policy matters?

Democracy Watch would not wish to repeat its views on the credibility of all our institutions, particularly the Police. The ball is clearly in the court of the Prime Minster. He cannot continue to be passive. He needs to take the bull by the horns now. No dilly dallying!