Dr Ibrahim Alladin, although your sincerity for suggesting the setting up of a National Disaster Authority to avert future disaster - very commendable indeed - cannot be denied, I beg to differ with you.
It is not a national disaster authority that is needed for this country. Mauritius is simply not being run this way. You will never be able to recruit the right persons for such an institution. There is too much political lobby and interference going on. Politicians are simply overwhelmed, especially when big money is involved. The way things are going, public institutions do not and cannot have integrity. There should be a whole change in our concept of how the country is to be governed. As Mauritians do not trust their rulers any more, they should take their destiny in their own hands.
What I suggest is the establishment by their representatives of a social contract between residents of an area and their municipality/district council and the private sector in that area. All problems affecting or which may affect that area are to be dealt with jointly through public participation. The sense of fraternal solidarity must prevail. Local authorities are to be real authorities, fully autonomous entities not dependent on any ministry and recognised as such for prompt action by government bodies such as police, fire brigade, special mobile force, national coast guard and all para-statal bodies in regard to any disaster affecting the area, on a 'first come, first served' basis. Ministers and politicians should avoid interfering except to organise for the provision of social and medical assistance through their ministries. Local authorities should have power to raise funds as and when required and be free to recruit engineers, lawyers and other professionals. Government shall step in only to monitor the overall situation through ad hoc co-ordination committees and when all resources put in cannot cope with the situation.
The idea is to break all disaster problems into small parts that can be promptly addressed by the residents with the help of local authorities and the private sector. An additional benefit of this type of disaster management may be obtained by continuous monitoring of risk assessment through voluntary attendance at meetings of all concerned parties after working hours or during weekends. At such meetings first-hand information can be gained from residents on all environmental changes in the area affecting their lives and preventive measures quickly taken.
The type of disaster management suggested above will undoubtedly create a strong bond in the Mauritian population. For recent events have confirmed that the public and local authorities are better able to take prompt action to save lives than government machinery that enters the scene only after the event.