The far-sighted National Development Strategy superbly integrated policies for land use and transport. Unfortunately, politicians ignored it and implemented half-baked projects in response to oligarchic lobbies and contemporary crises rather than future needs. This follows the sad precedent of dismantling Mauritius’ extensive railway network, which used to link not only Port Louis with the towns of Plaines Wilhems, but also Mahébourg, Souillac, Tamarin, Flic-en-Flac, Pamplemousses, Rivière du Rempart, Flacq and GRSE.
At that time, people preferred buses and sugar growers lorries as they were faster and more convenient but, as private car ownership has increased, our roads have become gridlocked during ever lengthening rush hours. A plethora of new roads is a reactive solution and the recent revival of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, re-routed through Bagatelle, seems intended to increase the value of a certain sugar estate’s holdings.
While travel time and convenience have been the dominant criteria for decision-making during the era of cheap oil, cost may soon prove to be the critical factor. Moreover, the total dependence of our transport system on imported fossil fuels would see it grind to a halt in the event of a supply disruption, caused, for example, by a US/Israeli war with Iran. Therefore, increasing both energy efficiency and self-sufficiency are vital for sustainable transport in Mauritius.