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National Assembly

Debate 5b


Written Answers to Questions - 17 April 2001
LE MORNE TELEPHERIQUE PROJECT – FELLING OF TREES - LE MORNE MOUNTAIN
          (No. B/200) Mr F. Abdoola (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology & Natural Resources whether, in view of the fact that a considerable number of indigenous trees were destroyed by the promoter of the téléphérique project at Le Morne, which is a protected zone under the forestry department, he will state -
(a) whether proper authorisation was granted to the promoter and, if not, whether the promoter was prosecuted by the forestry department; and
(b) how the wood obtained therefrom has been disposed of.
Reply: With regard to part (a) of the question, no authorisation was granted to the promoter to fell trees on Le Morne mountain in connection with the téléphérique project. A contravention has consequently been established by the Conservator of Forests and the promoter is being prosecuted before the District Court of Bambous for breach of Section 14 of the Forest and Reserves Act.
          With regard to part (b), the wood from the felled trees is still lying on the spot.
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION FEE – AMOUNT COLLECTED
          (No. B/234) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Environment whether, in regard to environment protection fee, he will state -
(a) the amount that has been collected from December 1999 to date; and
(b) sectors which have so far paid their contributions.
Reply: I am informed as follows -
(a) an amount of Rs83,276,074 has been collected; and
(b) all hotels and all boarding houses having more than four bedrooms are so far subject to the environment protection fee.
NORTHERN COLLEGE – TEMPORARY CLOSURE
          (No. B/235) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the temporary closure of Northern College, he will state -
(a) reasons thereof; and
(b) why there was a major deployment of the Police for that closure.
Reply: As the House is already aware, following students' unrest at Northern College which occurred around 15 March, a Fact Finding Committee was appointed on 30 March. Since then, the PSSA has been closely monitoring the situation at the school.
          Instead of improving, the situation has worsened and damage has been caused to school property. This tendency if left unchecked, would have led to a very chaotic situation, putting the safety of the students at risk. On 9 April, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that one member of the staff was injured. The PSSA accordingly instructed the college to cease running classes, as a precautionary measure, for the four remaining days of the first term i.e. 10, 11, 12 and 13 April. The PSSA has further advised the School Manager to ensure that the days lost be replaced subsequently.
          Given the risk potential of the chaotic situation at the school, the PSSA had sought the assistance of the Police in order to maintain discipline on 10 when the school was released. I am given to understand that the Police of Plaine des Papayes, in turn, sought assistance from the Police Station of Piton and this explains the greater number of policemen deployed on that date at the school.
PANCHVATI (EX-HERMITAGE) - TAXI SERVICE
          (No. B/236) Dr. B. Hookoom (Second Member for Piton & Rivière du Rempart) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether, in the exercise of identifying needs for taxis in various areas, he will make a statement about the situation in Constituency No. 7, and say if due consideration will, amongst others, be given to the request of the inhabitants of Panchvati (ex-Hermitage) for taxis in that locality.
          Reply: I am informed that public service vehicle (taxi) licences have been granted in various localities falling within the boundaries of Constituency No. 7.
          As regards the request made by the inhabitants of Panchvati (ex-Hermitage) for taxis in that locality, I am informed that one public service vehicle (taxi) licence has been granted since 1993. However, the licence has not yet been implemented up to now.
          However, I am informed by the National Transport Authority that it is proposed to grant one additional licence for that locality with a view to supplementing taxi service there.
          Consequently, applications for the issue of the licence will be invited through the local press from the inhabitants of Panchvati.
NOBLESSE CIE. LTEE - EX-EMPLOYEES - COMPENSATION
          (No. B/237) Dr. B. Hookoom (Seond Member for Piton & Rivière du Rempart) asked the Minister of Labour & Industrial Relations whether he will state when the former employees of Noblesse Factory at Coromandel will receive their ex-gratia payment following the agreement reached between his Ministry and the management and announced by him on television on 13 October 2000.
          Reply: Following the closure of the Coromandel Factory of Noblesse Cie. Ltée., workers were paid compensation as provided for by law.
          However, following my personal intervention, the company agreed voluntarily to enhance the compensation by an ex-gratia payment to all workers concerned on an agreed formula, on receipt of their acceptance duly signed.
          The General Manager has informed my Ministry that payment has not been effected so far as four employees have entered a case in Court against the company.
HOUSE FIRES VICTIMS – HARDSHIP RELIEF FROM NSF
          (No. B/238) Mr J.C. Barbier (First Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity & Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether he will state if victims of house fires are entitled to hardship relief from the National Solidarity Fund and, if not, will he give the reasons therefor.
          Reply: The victims of house fires are not entitled to hardship relief from the National Solidarity Fund (NSF).
          In the past, the NSF catered for such cases. Since July 1999, the NSF decided to stop considering cases of fire victims. The rationale behind this is that my Ministry is already covering such cases under the Social Aid Act.
          For the financial year 1999/2000, an amount of Rs1,278,928 representing allowances in respect of 249 cases was disbursed by my Ministry.
PUBLIC FUNDS - MANAGEMENT
          (No. B/239) Dr. P. Ramloll (First Member for Quartier Militaire & Moka) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, following the adverse comments in the last report of the Director of Audit, highlighting once again the most irresponsible manner in which public funds have been dished out, he will state if disciplinary and/or punitive measures will be taken against those found guilty.
          Reply: The House is very well aware of this Government's commitment to combat fraud, corruption and other malpractices to ensure a clean administration.
          I can assure the hon. Member that Government will be ruthless against those found guilty of mismanagement of public funds. Sanctions provided in the law will be strictly applied and will be reinforced, if necessary.
          Unlike under the previous Government, the recommendations and remarks contained in the report of the Director of Audit will be given the consideration they deserve and will definitely not remain a dead letter. Action has already been initiated by Government to ensure necessary follow-up. As a matter of fact, Government has decided that I, together with my colleagues, the Minister for Civil Service Affairs & Administrative Reforms and the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services & Corporate Affairs will be having meetings with all accounting officers on a regular basis to monitor the situation. A first meeting was held on 04 April and the Management Audit Bureau has been requested to report on the corrective measures being taken by the different Ministries and Departments.
WOOTON – MILLENNIUM MONUMENT
(No. B/240) Mr J.C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Arts and Culture whether, in regard to the millennium monument constructed at Wooton, he will (a) give its (i) estimated and (ii) final construction cost (b) state the nature of the defects found therein (c) give the total additional costs incurred during the maintenance period and (d) state the estimated annual recurrent expenditure thereon in terms of cleaning, maintenance and provision of supplies.
Reply: Concerning subsection (i) of part (a), if the hon. Member is referring to the figure representing the cost of the project on which the award of the contract was made, I am informed that that figure was Rs15,722,674, inclusive of VAT but excluding the cost of providing, by the client, water and electrical connections up to the site.
          Regarding subsection (ii) of part (a), I am informed that the final construction cost as agreed with the contractor by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, is Rs15,538,019.03 inclusive of VAT. This figure has been supplied by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure which monitored the implementation of the project.
The figures representing the cost as per contract which are Rs15,538,019 excludes the cost of water and electrical connections by the client.
          Thus the additional expenditure amounting to Rs291,400 was met by the Ministry in respect of electrical connections on site for an amount of Rs261,170 upon the recommendations of the Electrical Services Division. The balance of Rs30,230 was for the connection of water points up to the site.
The final figure of the cost of the project is lower than the estimated cost. The lower figure as the final value of the project is explained by the fact that in the course of the implementation some components mostly provisional sum items of the project were subject to necessary variations in scope and cost.
In some cases the variations added to the projected figures whereas in other cases there were decrease on the initial figures, for example:-
The amount of Rs15,722,674 was made up as follows:-
Estimated Contract Price
(Rs)
Actual Contract Price
(i)
Concrete Structure and monoliths (10)
9,465,940
9,267,540
(ii)
External Works
(Fencing, Access road, parking and cleaning of site)
2,705,000
2,705,000
(iii)
Provisional Sums
Stone entrance wall and gate
150,000.
233,730.
Toilet Block and plumbing, shelter and store
180,000.
252,003.90
Landscaping
500,000.
482,000.
Signage
210,100.
203,896.
Electrical installation
432,300.
434,351.55
Builders' work in connection with electrical installation
--
144,912
(iv)
(v)
(vi)
Contingency
Architect Fees
VAT (10%)
500,000.
150,000.
1,429,334.
252,038.40
150,000.00
1,412,547.18
15,722,674.
15,538,019.03
          As regards part (b), on 16 December 1999, at the time of practical handing over, the main problem noted was traces of humidity noticed on the internal walls of the monument. The contractor attended to the problem of humidity and other items in respect of which a snag list was drawn up and agreed upon with the contractor to be attended to during the maintenance period. I am laying a copy of this list in the Library of the National Assembly.  
Regarding part (c), I am informed that in accordance with the terms of the contract the contractor had borne the cost of all remedial works.    
Regarding part (d), the millennium monument is managed by the Mauritius Institute and I am informed that the estimated annual recurrent expenditure is around Rs244,000.
TROU D'EAU DOUCE/FLACQ VIA BOULET ROUGE - BUS ROUTE
          (No. A/33) Mr R. Daureeawoo (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether he will consider the advisability of arranging for another bus route to be made operational from Trou d'Eau Douce to Flacq via Boulet Rouge as an alternative to the existing route via Argy for the benefit and convenience of the inhabitants of Trou d'Eau Douce who have to make use of the administrative and banking facilities which are found along Boulet Rouge Road.
          Reply: I am informed that presently six buses owned by individual operators are licensed to operate along routes 55 (Central Flacq to Trou d'Eau Douce via Boulet Rouge) and 55B (Central Flacq to Trou d'Eau Douce via Argy). These buses were operating alternately along both routes.
          However, in 1998 the services via Boulet Rouge had to be curtailed mainly because of the following reasons -
(a) the passenger flow via Boulet Rouge was inexistent;
(b) buses were unnecessarily delayed along Boulet Rouge road in view of the high volume of traffic; and
(c) the demand for bus services via Argy was more pressing.
I have now given instructions to the National Transport Authority to consider the possibility of re-introducing bus services along route 55 via Boulet Rouge.
LORETO CONVENT STREET/WOOTON ROUNDABOUT - ROAD SAFETY
(No. A/34) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether with a view to ensuring the safety of pedestrians and school children in particular, he will state what measures he intends to take in regard to the traffic problem along the Loreto Convent Street up to the Wooton roundabout.
Reply: A site visit had already been effected along the Loreto Convent Street up to the Wooton roundabout by the Traffic Management Unit and the Road Safety Unit of my Ministry and a series of recommendations have been made for reinforcing the road safety aspect in the region.
Indeed, a signalised pedestrian crossing has been provided as well as appropriate road markings. Two road humps have also been provided to inhibit speeding and two crossings have also been set up to assist pedestrians to cross the road.
As a long-term project, it is proposed to strengthen further the road safety by providing hard shoulder together with roadside drainage facilities in the non-habitated zone up to Wooton roundabout.
CITE LOYSEAU HOUSING ESTATE, FLOREAL - PETANQUE & VOLLEYBALL PITCHES - LIGHTING SYSTEM
          (No. A/35) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural & Urban Development whether, he will state when the defective lighting system within the petanque and volleyball pitches at Cité Loyseau Housing Estate at Floreal will be repaired.
Reply: The petanque and volleyball pitches at Cité Loyseau, Floréal had been handed over to the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund (SILWF) in 1994 after construction by the National Development Unit.
Both the petanque and volleyball pitches are located within the premises of the Cité Loyseau community centre operated by the SILWF and the responsibility for management and maintenance thereof rests with the SILWF.
According to SILWF, many of the electrical and wiring parts of the two pitches have been tampered with through acts of vandalism and electric supply has had to be disconnected in January 2001 to avoid risks of electrocution. SILWF is making arrangements to carry out necessary repairs at the earliest, in spite of the highly technical aspect of the works.