The Ministry of Environment is preparing to acquire a series of equipment, representing an investment of Rs 90 million, with the aim of strengthening the country's capacity to effectively manage oil spills.

The new equipment includes 8 kilometres of floating booms, a dozen specialised pumps (skimmers), power packs and adapted containers. The tender and evaluation process has been finalised and contracts will soon be awarded to the successful bidders for each piece of equipment. Everything should be acquired by the end of the year, according to Vishal Bundhun, Environment Officer at the Ministry of the Environment, who was speaking at a workshop in Pointe-Jérôme, Mahébourg.

Currently, the country is equipped to handle oil spills of up to 10 metric tonnes and the new acquisitions aim to multiply this capacity to 100 metric tonnes. However, Vishal Bundhun points out that even with these improvements, managing multiple simultaneous spills remains a potential challenge. “Even with more equipment, we could face complex situations. For example, in Pointe-aux-Sables, three ships sank on the reef on the same day, causing multiple simultaneous oil spills,” he explained. The Environment Officer also mentioned the various challenges the authorities had to face during the sinking of the MV Wakashio in Pointe-d’Esny in 2020.

In parallel, the Ministry has developed a new National Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the entire Republic of Mauritius ready for implementation subject to approval by the Cabinet of Ministers. This plan will be aligned with the new Environment Act 2024, which will take effect on 1 August, requiring a review every five years.

The two-day workshop, organised under the project “Enhancement of Institutional Capacity in Oil Spill Response for the Republic of Mauritius”, brings together various key actors including NGOs, the fishing community and other stakeholders. This project benefits from technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), representing the commitment of the Japanese government to support Mauritian initiatives to strengthen resilience to environmental disasters.

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