Metro Line Extension

Are there valid overriding reasons for dumping the Airport and Grand Bay stretches in favour of the Rose Hill to Moka Smart City line?

By Jan Arden

To those who may be unaware of the mammoth and lucrative developments being planned and taking place on ENL lands located in the heart of the island, around Moka-Telfair, we would suggest a look at the informative websites (in particular or provided by the Group.

There is no doubt that starting some 15-20 years ago, the planning and coordination on scales of thousands of those strategically situated hectares of former cane lands by a conglomerate that is as quintessentially Mauritian as others was poised to propel the already powerful Group to the forefront of Mauritian real estate, property, business office, business hospitality and retail activities. Given their central location at the cross-roads of our North-South and East-West axes and the Group’s reputation for attention to architecture and quality finishes, these would reshape the centre of the island, linking existing ENL activities (Helvetia, Curtin University, Ecole du Centre, Kendra…) with future ambitious real estate projects to give reality to the already ably marketed Moka Smart City.

Much of the current and future achievements of the Group will have been due to working closely with central government and its agencies (EDB, PMO and various Ministries) particularly over the past decade or so. In that joint spirit, the Group must have felt that the extension from Rose-Hill of the metro line with its features of modernity, convenience, and linkage to the main Curepipe to Port-Louis metro line would add considerable benefit to the region’s vitality and the Group’s returns on its planned developments. In fact, marketing blurbs as far back as last year and the Moka Master Plan of the ENL Group were already showing off the Metro line as an integral component to the area’s future.

An entirely natural wish or feeling, one may add from a promoter’s point of view, and there would have been nothing surprising if that desire had been shared at highest levels to ensure favourable consideration. But integration into the planned Metro development should have been considered only at the most appropriate juncture in the Metro’s strategic development plans.

Most of the MT readership would be aware that despite India’s generous grant of some Rs 10 billion, which covered the capital Port-Louis to Rose-Hill, the rest of the lines and other costs are being funded by Mauritian taxpayers under Indian Exim-loans guaranteed by the central government through Special Purpose Vehicles on their behalf.

As key stakeholders, we may not rest content with the MEL (Metro Express Limited) CEO, Dr Das Mootanah’s periodic announcements of fantastic financial or operational success, number of travellers ferried and overall sustainability while the responsible Minister keeps arguing that no such financial study can be completed until the mainline is fully operational. Until such relevant information is provided and much-needed clarity brought to the public, we have to reserve judgement about whether MEL is still in a shaky financial situation or would be able to operate without heavy subsidies from the population.

Real traveller numbers, one presumes, would have been expected through the early completion of the North-South axis (i.e., from the Mahebourg/Airport area to Grand Bay in the north, through Curepipe and Port Louis) serving the most populous areas of urban agglomerations up to the tourist destinations in the north. It would be most surprising that the CEO would declare on air his ignorance that such a desirable North-South master plan exists or has been vetted by the authorities as essential to the Metro’s ambitions for sustainability with limited public subsidies. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 26 August 2022

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