Speed cameras — Fishy business?

Points to Ponder

By Lex

A FIRST POINT: Some time ago, government launched tenders for the installation of speed cameras in various parts of the country. The initiative is very laudable and we have to congratulate those who initiated this project. However, I have been informed that underhand moves would have taken place.

Three companies were short-listed in the first instance: a French company, an Italian company and a Mauritian company. However, another company which was allegedly rejected initially leveraged its contacts to get itself short-listed. It would also appear that one of the officers who, for very good reasons, put aside the fourth company’s bid would have been replaced by another person more amenable to certain suggestions. Thus the company that was not short-listed initially found itself as the fourth company in the short list.

Of the four short-listed companies, the French company later informed that it would not be possible for it to install the speed cameras with the specified timeframe, and withdrew from the exercise. The Italian company said that it was no longer interested in the project. At the end of the day, the authorities were left with only the two local companies.

There was a strong rumour that the fourth company, the one that was not on the short list initially, would be awarded the tender. Both local companies are associated with South African partners. It would appear that the South African partner-company, which is associated with one of the two local companies, does not enjoy a good reputation. It is alleged to be mired in controversies wherever it has installed speed cameras and that court cases would have been lodged in this regard. We are also told that equipment supplied elsewhere were allegedly not according to tender specifications.

But there is a more important matter to be considered. Arms trade is big business, and some South African companies are known to be involved in such business. We have to be careful. Let the higher authorities conduct an enquiry into this matter. I will suggest that the whole exercise be declared null and void and a fresh tender be launched.

The MMM and ICAC

A SECOND POINT: Politics is always interesting and instructive in Mauritius. Politicians, whether of the government or the opposition, are paid to do their duty to the best of their ability and in no circumstances should they shirk their responsibility. The MMM must nominate four members of the National Assembly to form part of a committee to supervise the workings of the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC).

The opposition is very much part of our political process; it has to play the role it won for itself at the polls, failing which it would be disqualifying itself as a political party. It makes no sense to boycott an institution on the mere pretext that those manning the institution you are required to supervise are not doing their duty properly.

According to me, the MMM has some ulterior motives. Is it trying to build up a case that will enable it to do away with the ICAC eventually? The episode concerning the Economic Crime Office (ECO) is still fresh in the memory of every Mauritian. We all remember how and why the ECO was summarily abolished, don’t we?

Does the MMM’s followers accept the opinion of the international organisations that have commended the work performed by the ICAC or do they claim to know better? If they claim to know better, then we say that they have ulterior motives or some axe to grind.

Politicians should show due respect to the laws of the country and to its institutions. Does the MMM show such respect? Let everybody answer the question for himself. Whether you like a piece of legislation or not, or whether you like an institution or not is neither here nor there. You must respect them so long as they are on our statutes books. This is the duty of a responsible politician/party.

Family values

A THIRD POINT: ‘Mauritius, an island of family values.’ How nice the words sound. Unfortunately, this will never be the case and the reason is simple. Mauritius just copies the supposed family values that are prevalent in western societies whereas over 75% of its population is composed of descendants of people who have come from the East, especially India. The family values as practiced in England or France are different from those practiced in India or China or even in Africa. If we are going to ape everything European, let us then forget our culture and our languages. At the same time we have to remember that some local organisations are trying to draw away from the fold our own people thanks to the vast sums of money made available to them by some religious organisations in a few foreign countries.

To come back to the family values: we have always believed in the benefits of the extended family. But since the time we have adopted western values, we have moved away from our traditional social values. Just think of the time when our grandparents were staying at home. They used to look after the grand children and it was a pleasure for them to do so; the father and the mother did not have to bother about their food, their health and above all, the children used to learn about their language and their culture and above all, their religion. And the grandparents used to take them to school in the morning and bring them back in the afternoon.

Nowadays, a girl who prepares to get married would never accept to stay in an extended family and problems start cropping up as soon as the first child is born. The new parents start looking for somebody who can take care of their kid.

Then the child is then put in a kindergarten, where we never know what kind of treatment is meted out to the kid. After all, most of the kindergartens are only interested in making money. What kind of food is given to the children? Better not say anything on this. What are they taught? They only ape what is done in Europe.

When the children are in the kindergarten, they are supposed to learn the rudiments of their religion, their language and their culture. Are they taught these matters? You can bet that they are not.

The parents are at fault and they cannot blame others. They are not doing their duty. On the one hand, they work hard and on the other they spend on paying people to look after their children. Why can’t the mothers live with their in-laws for the benefit of their children? And here, the blame lies squarely on the wives in the families. They say that they cannot live with their mothers-in-law for some flimsy reasons. Hopeless, is it not?

* Published in print edition on 1 June 2012

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