I am certainly not an expert in meteorology, in flood prevention or in public sector administration. I am only a layman who follows with interest the events as they happen in this country and the views thereon of politicians generally and of opinion makers in the press. However I believe Mr Soobarah is absolutely right in condemning the wrong done to the former director of the Meteorological Services, Mr Balraj Dunputh who, it would appear, would have been “retired” in the wake of the flash floods of 30 March 13. I am referring to Mr Soobarah’s article in last week’s issue of your paper relating to the tragic floods of 30 March 2013.
If we go by the considered opinions of experts, or if you wish, professionals who have had long years of service in the field of meteorology, weather forecasting, etc., as expressed in the columns of the press or on private radios (Suresh Boodhoo, former director of the Mauritius Meteorological Services, in the Mauritius Times of 5 Ap 13, and the director of Météo-France Réunion on Radio Plus around the same time), it was extremely difficult to predict the timing and the precise location of the heavy downpours we had on Saturday 30 March, and they went on to explain, in technical terms, why it could not have been possible to do so. You do not have to hold a doctorate in meteorology to understand those reasons. It would seem however that somebody had to be pinned down – a sacrificial lamb, as they say – for that tragic incident and the loss of 11 lives.
I am not interested in the blame game currently opposing the government and the opposition benches on the causes of the flash flood, or whether Mr Dunputh indeed contradicted himself regarding the readings of the Met Services. The comments and opinions of the scores of “experts” who have made their voices heard on private radios and in newspapers are worth what they are worth. A proper investigation, better a full-fledged Commission of Inquiry, chaired by a sitting judge and assisted by qualified assessors, will no doubt do justice to everybody concerned – those who have lost their lives, those who have lost their property and the one who has lost his job.
What I find objectionable – shameful, should I say – is that I have not heard nor read any trade unionist rising in the defence of the “retired” former director of the Met Services. Does this mean they do not have an opinion on this matter, or would they agree that Mr Dunputh erred and deserved the sack? They have every right to agree with the man who says that he is “leading from the front”, but they should at least say so.
We get to hear a lot from these trade unionists all year round on matters relating to “Errors & Omissions” with respect to their pay packages, privileges, duty-free cars and what not. What happens to them when issues not related to some additional “espèces sonnantes et trébuchantes” for themselves come up?
Our Honourable Members
Thank you Mr Suresh Boodhoo. I have enriched my knowledge on climate and its caprices thanks to your interview in the Mauritius Times of 5 April 2013.
Throughout my career as a schoolteacher, I have come across pupils who really could not be taught – dullards, idiots and some hard-learners with whom I had to exercise tremendous patience. At other times, my impatience with the really bad elements cost me trouble, and I paid dearly for having such pupils. Sometimes none of these pupils passed their exams, and my increments were withheld, my absences were deducted from my accumulated leave and my promotion delayed.
We seem to have the same kind of situation prevailing in our august Assembly. The Prime Minister explained clearly, backed by facts and figures, about the reasons that led to the flood last month. Unfortunately some of the Honourable Members could not understand and, like my ‘bad’ pupils of yesteryears, they shouted; some banged on the table, and some pointed threatening fingers towards the government benches.
The sad thing is that such Honourable Members cannot be punished. Who dares punish these demi-gods when they walk out? They are not accountable to anybody till the end of their mandate. Can their pay be withheld? Not that I know! But what has been their contribution to the debates in Parliament on the recent disaster? I mean, besides their shouting? Some others remain mute from the beginning till the end of their mandate, looking owlish! And we all pay for these Honourable Members!