Curepipe: Some structures change, roads do not!

To those who are responsible to administer Curepipe, I would ask: will we have to keep imagining Curepipe as a Ville Lumiere of the past, or can we make it reborn as a real one

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to live in Curepipe, where there are so many things to put one off. For a start, the rainy days in winter, which are invariably accompanied by drab, dull, overcast skies which can induce morosity and depression if one is not strong enough to resist them – and I confess to having been somewhat weak in this respect a couple of times lately!

The atmosphere on such dark days reminds me of West Yorkshire where I did my surgical training many years ago: once on a wintry afternoon I took a picture from the window of my flat situated on the first floor, about 4.30 pm, overlooking the hospital’s car park. It had snowed, and cars had been coming and going, so the white snow had turned into muddy slush. There was a shroud of dense, grey mist through which some trees a little distance away looked like ghostly shadows. Grrr! – is my reaction when I look at that picture again! And grrr! too for the past two spells of Curepipian punishmemt lasting several days each with a shorter interlude of thankfully rainless, sunny weather that gave denizens just enough time to air their houses and dry the washed clothes that were piling up. Thank goodness for disposable nappies! – would surely exclaim those with babies to care for.

It’s midday on Wednesday as I am writing, and there is a semblance of calm that earlier had allowed me to make a quick trip to the market at the Forum, and honestly I cannot say whether it will last. But yes, Curepipe in summer when other places are sizzling in above normal temperatures is no doubt a consolation – though for how long more is a big question mark, if we are to go by the torrid heat that did not spare us either at the beginning of this year, well until March. Climate change? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, but certainly up here in the central plateau there is weather change!

Then we have the awful roads, some of which have so often been subjected to quick bouche-trou (quick-job) fillings of cold bitumen that they have become covered with innumerable bosses (bumps): originally level road surfaces have become convex, and simultaneously harbour many pot-holes that seem to have an inordinately long life. Like the road that goes along former Monoprix (now Winner’s) in parallel with Chasteauneuf street. There’s Leclezio street that leads from Jan Palach, opposite which the new bus terminus is coming up. Lucky buses, for they will get a brand new smooth surface, and will exit on a similar strip of road adjoining the terminus that has been re-surfaced – while the rest of Leclezio street all the way up will have to remain in shame! And so on for many segments of the road network in Curepipe and its suburbs. Some roads do periodically get a make-over – on what criteria is like a secret of the gods, for a majority of others remain chronically unattended to.

But why does this disparity not move our deciders to better sentiments for the rest of what, after all, is their town as well? Surely, one would have thought, there should be some stirring in the soul(s), given that pretty soon the town is going to boast of a brand-new, modern urban terminal that will service the forthcoming metro where Jan Palach station now stands. Wouldn’t they want their town to be uniformly endowed with infrastructure to match that which will be laid out for the metro? Imagine the shiny new trains gliding gracefully down the Sivananda Avenue – converted into a metro track – running alongside Prosper d’Epinay street. I wish that in due course the trains will be equipped with AI instrumentation that will scan their immediate environment and give a voice-over feedback: we would surely hear their disappointment about their ‘fellow’ road!

But do we have to wait for that, or can our councillors take it upon their own to implement side by side the modernization that will be compatible with the level of development that the metro will bring about? Just a thought to share with those who are in a position to take the needed actions and who hopefully are as concerned about upgrading their town, our town.

The fencing of the Royal College, which is being redone, will go some way in that direction, but there again unless it is maintained regularly – at least an annual coat of fresh paint – it will remain covered by the fungus that thrives in our cold, damp climate. This is clearly visible in the existing fence, a sharp contrast to the newly coated railings.

And, once more, the famous Hotel de Ville is getting a thorough makeover. Like umpteen previous ones, this is unlikely to be the last, especially if bardeaux (wooden tiles) are again used to cover the sloping roof. I am almost certain that there would be more modern, weather proof materials that are available and could be used for the refurbishment, while at the same time preserving what is considered to be a prized, historical architectural style.

At the end of the day, though, it’s a question of preventive maintenance. In a reply in Parliament, reported in the media, Minister Stephan Toussaint stated that a quotation of Rs 100 million had been made to upgrade George V Stadium in view of the inter-island games, and had been declined. Two years ago I took the guided tour of Old Trafford, Man-U’s iconic grounds, and was spellbound at the account given about the year-long maintenance protocol of that place. If we do the same here with our stadium and our other public infrastructure, wouldn’t that spare us enormous and unnecessary expenditure later on? And also give employment to people? Why this is not done – another secret of the gods.

Like previous articles I have written along similar lines, these words are probably going to fall on deaf ears. But the point must surely be made, disinterestedly, on behalf of those of the coming generations. Mustn’t we leave them with a better town, a better country, a better world than the one we were born into? That’s our responsibility isn’t it?

And to those who are responsible to administer Curepipe, I would ask: will we have to keep imagining Curepipe as a Ville Lumiere of the past, or can we make it reborn as a real one, a city of shining lights safe for one and all? I know I am dreaming, but…

* Published in print edition on 16 August 2019

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