After the torrential rainfall warning issued at 10am, authorities have decided to close the educational institutions of the island. However, it was already too late. I personally witnessed students walking to their respective schools, drenched from head to toe. How could they protect themselves in this heavy rainfall? Umbrellas and raincoats were definitely not of great help in some cases. Several roads in the island were not practicable, and some cars were even caught in floods.
Figures from the Mauritius Meteorological Services :
Rainfall recorded from 07 March at 04oo hours to 0900 hours local time are as follows:
Providence: 130 mm
Pamplemousses: 109 mm
Nouvelle Decouverte: 133 mm
Mon Loisir Rouillard: 92 mm
Trou aux Cerfs: 73 mm
I have the impression that the authorities cracked down under the pressure exerted by the media, the private radios in particular. Radio Plus for example, changed its schedule completely, dedicating all the time and resources to cover and inform the population about the heavy rainfall and also, report problems to the authorities.
You surely remember that a student lost her life on her way back home in 2008, and of course, the exceptional speech of the former Minister of Education, Dharam GokhoolÂ who said, I quote : “Nou éna 350 000 zélev dan nou bann lékol, sé maléré ki enn inn perdi so lavi.” However, the he defended himself by saying that he was unable to finish his sentence since he was interrupted by journalists…
Issuing the warning at 10am is itself a fail in the system, as well as the need to wait for 100mm of rain. All students are already in their respective institutions, and parents at work. If this same alert was issued some hours earlier, it would have avoided the panic in the transport system and also for those parents who need to rush home.