Despite tough economic times, changes to make Mauritius a better country should not wait. Mauritius has the support of its strategic partners to take action on climate emergency, housing and building safety. The new government should commit itself to bring together the right regulation and the best expertise to address the challenges the country is facing. Our politicians can rely on the expertise, experience and passion of our public servants and experts to ensure that Mauritius is safer, better and more sustainable as long as they commit themselves to take practical action.

RAMBASSUN (SANDEEP) SEWPAL
Chartered Architect
Principal at Sandeep Sewpal Architect

Flood Control

Are we fighting the climate emergency? Are the right flood control measures applied? Some proper measures would be to introduce better flood warning systems, modify homes and businesses to help them withstand floods such as moving electric sockets higher up the walls and replacing materials such as MDF to appropriate robust alternatives amongst others, introduce new building regulations to construct buildings above flood levels, increase spending on flood defences, protect wetlands, restore rivers to their natural courses, introduce flood storage reservoirs, improve soil conditions so that they can absorb huge quantities of rainwater and put up temporary flood barriers on main roads to protect homes and businesses during heavy rainfalls. How can we ensure that people are safe in their own homes if the new government does not acknowledge that business as usual won’t work?

Housing & Planning

The new government should commit itself to prepare more effective and integrated planning instruments to fight poor quality and unpopular developments that continue to win planning approval against interest of local communities. New legislations or regulations are required to protect our rivers, wetlands and beaches. In order to ensure that new buildings are greener, safer and better designed, the Building Control Act should be amended to help fight against fraud and ‘’signature de complaisance” and give architects a greater role to help change. The new government should no longer treat housing as a speculative financial asset if they want to tackle the problem of unaffordable  »affordable housing » in Mauritius. Local plans and National Development Strategies should be updated to provide reassurance to local communities and greater confidence for promoters. The new government should now come with proactive planning rather than development control if sustainability, safety and quality standards are to be ensured for all buildings.

Building Safety

The tragic fire at Trianon Shopping Park in 2017 forced the government to bring minor changes to regulations and release a new fire code but the construction industry needs a radical and complete change. The new government needs to act quickly and swiftly when it comes to fire safety. The construction industry needs clear and prescriptive fire safety requirements to ensure that buildings are safe by design. Could the fire at Cité Longère, Baie-du-Tombeau, in November 2019 have been avoided if building regulations and fire safety regulations have been enforced? But in the absence of building regulations, building standards and Construction (Design Management) regulations, how can we ensure safety of construction workers and residents in Mauritius? The new government should take into consideration the following recommendations while drafting new regulations: provision of safer means of escape, improve fire warnings for residents and make sprinklers mandatory for all new and converted residential and commercial buildings.
In conclusion, Mauritius needs investment, leadership and effective regulation from government as well as a complete reform of the construction industry to ensure that the buildings are safer, greener and more sustainable. If Mauritius is to continue to attract foreigners to invest in real estate, the new government should make sure that building regulations and fire safety regulations are introduced and enforced nationwide on all projects. This will improve the standard of houses and business premises and make residential properties, a secure investment. Regardless of economic challenges, the new government cannot afford to sit back and hope for the best if they do not act now!