Mauritius: The technical assistance on enhancing institutional capacity on oil spill response provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will greatly benefit Mauritius and the local institutions to face any future oil spill better.
This was the gist of the speech of the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Kavydass Ramano, this morning at the Mauritius Maritime Training Academy in Pointe Aux Sables.
The Minister spoke at the opening ceremony of a five-day International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Level 1 training under the Technical Assistance Programme for enhancing Institutional Capacity on Oil Spill Response for the Republic of Mauritius. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mauritius, Shuichiro Kawaguchi, and other personalities were present at the event.
It is recalled that as part of a Technical Assistance Programme from the Government of Japan, the Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, in collaboration with the Mauritius Police Force, the National Coast Guard and other stakeholders, is presently implementing a five-year project entitled ‘Enhancement of Institutional Capacity in Oil Spill Response for the Republic of Mauritius’, through JICA. The project kicked off in October 2022.
Activities to be organised under the project comprise capacity building of first responders; the development of a localised oil spill trajectory simulation model; and the development of tactical and operational maps for namely Port Louis Harbour, Bain des Rosnay to Poste de Flacq, and Pointe du Diable to Pointe d’Esny.
Under the project, seven Officers from Government Institutions followed an intense training on oil spill preparedness and response management in April 2023 in Japan to disseminate the knowledge acquired to local communities and non-governmental organisations through area communities that would be set up around the Republic of Mauritius.
The five-day IMO Level 1 training programme, jointly with the JICA, on oil spill response and preparedness for 33 Officers from Government Agencies is also being held in the context of the Technical Assistance Programme.
In his address, Minister Ramano also stressed that lessons learnt from the August 2020 Wakashio Tier 3 oil spill of 800 metric tonnes incident showed the imperative to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response capabilities and for stricter regulations and protocols to prevent and manage such environmental disasters.
He thus thanked the Government of Japan for their continued support in taking Mauritius on a pathway of resilience and sustainability through the Technical Assistance Programme and other related projects.
According to Ramano, his Ministry was leaving no stone unturned to consolidate oil spill preparedness and response.
These efforts include the update of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan; the procuring of oil spill combat equipment to the tune of Rs 90 million; technical and financial assistance from the Nairobi Convention Secretariat through the United Nations Environment Programme to complement the revised National Oil Spill Contingency Plan; and support under the financing agreement between the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development and the Agence Française de Développement for, among others, the elaboration of various oil spill management plans and framework.
For his part, Ambassador Shuichiro Kawaguchi highlighted the utmost importance of having an effective oil spill preparedness and response framework for Island States such as Mauritius, citing as an example the disastrous consequences on local communities and the environment following the grounding of the MV Wakashio off the south-eastern coast of Mauritius.
The Ambassador also stated that Japan will always have a safe and prosperous future for the region. He pointed out that the Technical Assistance Programme aligned with Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision based on promoting the rule of law, freedom of navigation, and market economy as crucial factors leading to peace and stability for every country.