Going through Roche Bois is part of my daily life. I work at LSL Digital which is situated in an industrial zone at Baie du Tombeau. Before I can reach office I have to go through the Motorway M2 coming from North and I turn right at the Baie du Tombeau round-about, thus taking Cocoterie Road in Roche Bois. I would mostly spend my day in office, cut off from the rest of the region but even then I have to go through the same road twice a day, some times even more.

Have you ever driven from Riche-Terre to Port-Louis through Motorway M2 or vice-versa? Were your car windows closed with the A/C on? Oh. Try turning off the A/C and open all windows. Depending on the time of the day you could smell a multitude of choking odours, bad smell that spreads in this region of Roche Bois. It can even cause nausea to sensitive ones. The smell varies within minutes of driving through Riche-Terre till Freeport Mere-Rouge round-abouts. Maybe that very bad smell emanates from various sources, maybe not. Who to blame? Industrial waste? I don’t know, I cannot say.

Roche Bois, Mauritius

My colleague and friend, Sandeep Ramgolam, who lives in Roche Bois, voiced out the degrading air quality to the authorities. He tells me that the situation has been so for about 4 – 5 years. I thus assume that Roche Bois had once better quality and breathable air.

He started writing a note on Facebook to log the various complaints he made.

Sandeep Ramgolam's note on Roche Bois smell

His complaints to the authorities haven’t brought results so far. The situation only deteriorates rather than showing any sign of amelioration.

For the few minutes that I drive through those roads the situation is often unbearable. I cannot torture my lungs and I have to close the car windows. I can’t imagine the lives of people having to sit at dinner or lunch breathing that same nauseating air.

Section 40 of the Environment Protection Act prescribes the following:

40. Standards for air
(1) The Minister shall prescribe standards to protect the quality of air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare, and the development and the productive capacity of human, animal or plant life. </br>(2) The standards prescribed under subsection (1), shall provide for— (a) minimum essential air quality; (b) the control of concentration of substances in the air, which separately or in combination, are likely to result in damage or deterioration of property, and of human, animal and plant health; (c) controls for atmospheric pollution originating from energy and industrial sources, including pollution produced by craft and other self-propelled vehicles, and by factories and power generating stations; (d) standards applicable to emission from mobile sources, causing or contributing to air pollution, or endangering public health and welfare.

The vision and mission statement of the Ministry of Environment states the following:

To achieve a “cleaner, greener and safer Mauritius” in a sustainable manner, through protection and management of our environmental assets, mainstreaming sustainable development principles in different sectors of the economy, solid and hazardous waste management, enhanced resilience to disasters, and conservation and rehabilitation of beaches.

What can you do?

If you’re affected by the unhealthy air quality of Roche Bois, you can lodge a complaint to the “Police de l’Environment”. The phone numbers are 210-5151 and 210-5252. After lodging your complaint please ask for the case number. That will be useful for future reference.

As per their webpage, the Police de L’Environment attends to complaints relating to noise pollution, odour, dumping, eyesores, illegal slaughtering and nuisances caused byderelict bare lands.

If you seek more information or need to escalate a complaint, you may contact the Ministry of Environment via a preferred channel from the following:

Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management. Ken Lee Tower, Cnr Barracks & St Georges Streets, Port-Louis. Tel: 203 6200 - 6210, 210 5151, 210 5252 (Hotline) Email: [email protected]

Or

The Minister, Honourable Marie Roland Alain Wong Yen Cheong, M.S.K. Level 7, New Government Centre Port-Louis, Republic of Mauritius. Tel: 405 5774 Email: [email protected]