Mauritius: As of 2023, Road Safety Education will be introduced as a compulsory subject in the curriculum at the level of primary schools, from Grade 1, under a joint initiative of the Ministry of Land Transport and Light Rail, the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, the Mauritius Institute of Education, and the Mauritius Police Force.
The Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo, made the announcement this morning, in Port Louis, at a press conference presenting an account of activities and projects for 2022 relating to the Land Transport and Light Rail sectors.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Shakuntala Devi Gujadhur-Nowbuth; the Director of the Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit (TMRSU), Mr Daramdev Nathoo; the Road Transport Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge of the National Land Transport Authority (NLTA), Dr Koshik Reesaul; and the Chief Executive Officer of Metro Express Limited (MEL), Dr Das Mootanah, were present at the press conference.
While informing that the death toll of road accidents decreased from 144 victims in 2019 to 108 in 2021 and that the number of road deaths for 2022 as of date stood at 102, the Land Transport Minister deplored that half of these road accidents involved two-wheelers and that 50% of the road fatalities were young people.
He stated that road safety awareness and education was crucial aspect of the Government’s strategy to reduce mortality and morbidity resulting from road accidents.
Thus, he stressed the necessity to sensitise and educate people about road safety so that they adopt appropriate behaviours as road users.
He talked of the various projects at the level of the Ministry, such as awareness campaigns and slam competitions, to inculcate a responsible attitude in young road users.
On another front, while speaking about efforts made to improve the land transport system over the last twelve months, Mr Ganoo drew up a positive picture, expressing his satisfaction with the progress made in terms of endeavours by the Ministry, the NLTA, the TRMSU, MEL, and the National Transport Corporation (NTC).
National Land Transport Authority
The Minister pointed out that bus services were a key component of the overall transport system of the country, with some 440,000 commuters travelling daily.
He hence highlighted the importance of maintaining decent and appropriate bus services to passengers and mentioned measures implemented by his Ministry to ensure the well-being of passengers.
He cited the example of the NTLA’s Bus Modernisation Scheme, set up to provide a subsidy to bus operators to renew their fleet and for which Rs 1.3 m were disbursed for every 61 buses purchased for the financial year 2021/2022.
He indicated that a sum of Rs 70 m had been earmarked under the Scheme for the financial year 2022-2023, and already, 63 applications had been received, and some Rs 20 m granted.
Moreover, Mr Ganoo talked of the Disciplinary Committee set up with a view to initiating and hearing disciplinary proceedings against licensees of the NLTA who were not complying with their conditions of the licence, especially bus operators who were not offering a satisfactory level of service to passengers.
He invited the public to submit any complaint in case of unsatisfactory or default service by the transport operators. The Minister also declared that a 24/7 Customer Service Hotline Centre would be coming into operation soon to give information on the services offered by the NLTA and to address any related issue or complaint.
Furthermore, 330 crack-down initiatives by the Police and the NLTA against illegal transport operators, which the Minister averred deprived legit transport operators of 10% of their revenue, were carried out.
Figures pertaining to the revenue resulting from the application for Personalised Registration Mark, including the new series of Registration Marks, were also revealed by Mr Ganoo.
The new Personalised Registration Marks, which can be purchased from Rs 50,000 up to Rs 200,000, generated some Rs 26.7 m with 236 applications treated and 59 reserved. The Registration Marks, which can be acquired against a payment of Rs 25,000, have brought in Rs 93.6 million with 3,743 applications received.
Metro Express project
Regarding the Metro Express, the Minister was of the view that it was fast becoming a popular means of transport with a daily ridership of 40,000 people. Evoking the completion of the extension of the light rail lines from Quatre Bornes to Phoenix in May 2022 and from Phoenix to Curepipe in October 2022, Mr Ganoo apprised that Phase 3 of the project, which would connect Rose-Hill to Ebène, would be inaugurated by the end of January 2022.
The Minister deemed the Metro Express project a catalyst and a hub for integrated development, which had regenerated the urban landscape, revitalised commercial activities, and encouraged efficient public-private partnerships, as demonstrated by the Victoria Urban Terminal and the Phoenix Mall Metro Station.
He affirmed that a target of 60,000 passengers could be reached with Phase 4 of the Metro Project, which would connect Réduit to St Pierre. On that score, he said that a feasibility study was underway for extending the light rail lines to Réduit, St Pierre and Côte d’Or.
National Transport Corporation
As for the NTC, the Minister detailed the investment in sustainable transport with the replacement of the ageing fleet with the latest generation low-floor, and low-carbon fuelled diesel buses and electric buses.
He added that the 2022-2023 Budget catered for the purchase of 200 electric buses and that technical assistance for the bus electrification infrastructure was being sought.
Other achievements at the NTC in a bid to enhance its efficiency and service delivery were listed by Mr Ganoo. They comprised, among others, of the operation of some nineteen 16-seater vans to minimise cost and maximise efficiency on routes which were considered not financially viable and the implementation of the Smart Bus Information System, which would facilitate real-time data capture and live ticket monitoring through the use of new intelligent electronic ticket machines in buses fitted with relevant ICT equipment.