Should the Prime Minister resign, now?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, during a press conference mentioned that Mauritius does not have the expertise and equipment to combat the ecological disaster caused by the Wakashio shipwreck and oil spill in our lagoon.

Although, he thanked the organizations and volunteers that are offering to help and clean-up, he also stated that as per "environment experts" people should know what they are doing when helping or else they might cause more harm than good. He said that the areas having the oil spill have been declared as being « restricted areas » and only authorized people will be allowed access. So far, the law has not been enforced and the authorities have been lenient to allow people to come and help. However, he stated that there needs to be order and together with the Ministry of Environment there will be a "system" to distinguish between people who are coming to help or just coming for nothing.

A lot of people are disgusted by the words of the Prime Minister, especially after a notice in the Government Gazette, published on the 7th August 2020, started circulating on Facebook. Paragraph 4 of the latter notice states:

Members of the public are hereby reminded that where a person refuses to evacuate any restricted area, a police officer may use such reasonable force as may e necessary to remove that person from the area.

I could not find any reference to the Gazetted notice in local news websites neither on the website of the Government Printing Department.

In my opinion, a combination of events and actions have contributed to the people's frustration;

  • lack of transparency from the government,
  • slow to act despite the urgency,
  • no proper plan to help people immediately affected by the ecological disaster,
  • presence of the MPs hardly seen on the site at the beginning of the event,
  • saying we do not have expertise is not an excuse, efforts count.

Petition

A petition started on Change.org calling the Prime Minister of Mauritius to resign, has already obtained more than 10,000 signatures. The petition blames the incompetency of the Prime Minister and his team for the ecological disaster that the MV Wakashio shipwreck caused in Mauritius.

It works!

Members of Rezistans ek Alternativ started the initiative to make buoys using bagasse and sugarcane leaves. Shortly after that, people from all over Mauritius flocked to Mahebourg to help with preparation of these artisanal buoys. Since yesterday we could see these buoys being made by volunteers in different places on the island, like the Creative Park at Beau Plan, behind the Food Lovers Market at the Bagatelle Mall and the Unicity Park Office, Cascavelle.

Artisanal buoys traps oil spilled from Wakashio
Photo credits, Artesia Clicks on Facebook

The photo posted by Artesia Clicks perfectly depicts the efficiency of these artisanal bagasse-filled buoys. It's an irony against the Prime Minister's statement that we do not have expertise and equipment. Citizens of Mauritius did not sit back waiting for international help, as it appears to be what the Government would have done, but instead as one nation, as one people, they all helped to save our lagoons, our flora & fauna! 👏

Défimedia says Prime Minister’s tweet calling French President for help is fake 🙄

I was surprised to read on defimedia.info that a tweet by the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, in which he reaches out to the French President, Emmanual Macron, is a fake tweet. The news article says that the Prime Minister's Office would like to inform the public that the tweet in "circulation" is fake. The article mention the PMO communique in verbatim or a link to the communique is it's available online. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether the communique means to say there is a fake twitter account of the Prime Minister of Mauritius

The news article published a screenshot of the tweet which shows the Prime Minister's Twitter handle @PKJugnauth.

To avoid any dispute about the existence of this article I archived it on the Wayback Machine.

I do not follow the Prime Minister on Twitter but I did notice the tweet in my feed yesterday after several people from my Twitter network retweeted it.

The Twitter account with handle @PKJugnauth is a verified account, has about 21,800 followers and mentions the @MauritiusPM Twitter handle in it's profile description. The latter handle is also a verified Twitter account described as the PM's Office of Mauritius and it retweeted the call for help by @PKJugnauth that addressed @EmmanuelMacron, the French President.

I am embedding the tweet reply by the French President which also includes the original tweet which is allegedly fake as per the article.


I could not find any communique on the Prime Minister's Office website mentioning these tweets.

Now, if fake Twitter accounts, that happen to be verified Twitter accounts, with thousands of followers, belonging to the Mauritian Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office, exist... then this is a very serious matter.

Else, if the Prime Minister's Office issued a misleading communique about the Prime Minister's tweet and that the latter is not fake, then also it is a very serious matter.

Finally, if defimedia.info published a communique supposedly issued by the Prime Minister's Office, turns out to be « fake news » rather than « fake tweet » then I just do not know what to say. 😐

Frustrated by the government’s inaction locals flock to help in every way possible

MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier with 3,894 metric tons of low sulphur fuel oil, 207 metric tons of diesel and 90 metric tons of lubricant oil on board, ran aground near Pointe d'Esny on the 25th July 2020.

Local authorities failed to do enough to prevent what is now the worst ecological disaster in Mauritius. They started putting buoys and barriers to protect the shore only after the first signs of the oil spill became apparent.

Members of different NGOs expressed their disappointment on the empty words of the authorities.

Two nights ago members of Rezistans ek Alternativ made bagasse based buoys and placed them in the water to try to absorb and contain the oil which had already spread in our lagoons. The initiative was greatly applauded by a lot of Mauritians and the next day more people came forward to help.

Source: Facebook post by @reziste

Terra, one of the largest corporations in Mauritius, announced that they are providing 8 tonnes of sugarcane leaves to make buoys at their Creative Park in Beau Plan. Volunteers were welcomed to give a helping hand.

Source: Facebook post by @terramauricia

CIEL Group along with other organizations and volunteers plan to complete 5 km of booms/barrages today.


How can you help?

A call for volunteers was made by a committee, under the aegis of the Prime Minister's Office, composed of the Ministry of Environment and different NGOs like the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, REEF Conservation and Eco-Sud. Volunteers may register online by providing their name, phone number and National ID Number. They will be contacted by the committee to coordinate the clean-up of affected areas.

Meanwhile, Rezistans ek Alternativ also made a call for volunteers to come help at the Mahebourg Waterfront, a non restricted zone, and that there is no need to register online or whatsoever. Just come & help! 😉

Japanese bulker MV Wakashio runs aground in Mauritius and causes oil to spill in the blue lagoon

A bulk carrier, MV Wakashio, that belongs to a Japanese company and sails under the flag of Panama ran aground in Mauritius on 25th July 2020. The ship was on its course to Brazil carrying 3,894 metric tons of low sulphur fuel oil, 207 metric tons of diesel and 90 metric tons of lubricant oil on board as reported by MarineLink.

Video credits, Reuben Pillay.

The first traces of oil spill became apparent after about a week. Despite the alarm raised by the NGOs, inhabitants and fishermen, the local authorities seemed to have acted slow in precautionary measures. A clear sign of poor leadership.

The Fisheries Minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, is quoted by The Guardian saying:

This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem.

The Minister appears to have forgotten the MV Benita bulker shipwreck and oil spill that occurred four years ago. No lessons learned there! 😑

A report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme describes a national contingency plan for responding to oil spills that may occur in Mauritius and five of the important Islets. On page 37 of the report oil spill response strategies are detailed.

Mauritians expressed their disappointment, anger and sadness on social networks.






Africa Internet Summit (AIS’20) registration opens

The physical meeting for the Africa Internet Summit 2020 which was due in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, had to be re-scheduled into a virtual meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting will be held online from the 14th to 18th September 2020.

Registration for the meeting is now open.

People who previously registered when the physical meeting was announced have the register again.

Elections

AIS'20 will hold several elections, two of which usually draws the community attention:

  • AFRINIC Board Election
  • AFRINIC Policy Development Working Group (PDWG) Co-chairs Election

The Board election will be conducted through an electronic voting that will run from the 5th till the 18th of September 2020. The final candidate slate for the election will be published by AFRINIC staff on the 16th of August 2020.

The criteria to vote in the AFRINIC Board and Governance Committee elections are:

  • Any AFRINIC Resource Member in good standing,
  • All Registered Members.

The election for the PDWG Co-chairs is usually carried in-place during the physical meeting and all attendees are allowed to vote. However, as this year the election will be held online, the criteria for eligible voters had to be reviewed. Therefore, the AFRINIC CEO, Eddy Kayihura, requested the community's feedback & comments about the same on the AFRINIC Resource Policy Discussions mailing list.

Yesterday, the Chairman of the AFRINIC Board of Directors, Dr. Christian D. Bope, informed the community about the approval of the election process for this year based on the feedback & comments received.

The criteria to vote in the PDWG Co-chairs election are:

  • The intended registrant must have completed an online registration,
  • The intended registrant must have been on the Resource Policy Discussion mailing list (rpd@afrinic.net) for at least 6 months immediately prior to his/her online registration for the meeting.

Stasiek Michalski answers Richard Brown’s questions as the openSUSE election campaign progresses

The openSUSE election campaign is in progress.

Community members are welcome to ask the candidates questions about their views on the project and to comment on some of the pertinent matters within the community. Richard Brown, former Chairman of openSUSE, put a few questions to Stasiek Michalski about his views on conflict resolution, the board structure and the project's key sponsor SUSE.

Stasiek expressed his views as he answered Richard on the project mailing list. Coming to the question about conflict resolution he stated:

I wish we could just exist without conflict, but I recognize being a pacifist in today's world is pretty much impossible ;)

Stasiek says that he is all ears to members on various channels where he hangs out, Telegram, Discord, Reddit, Twitter among other channels listed on this website.

I encourage members to engage with both our candidates for this election, Stasiek Michalski and Pierre Böckmann.

Candidates list for the openSUSE Ad-hoc Board Election

The Call for Nominations for the openSUSE Ad-hoc Board Election ended last night. The Election Committee received the nominations of two openSUSE members and both nominees accepted to run as candidate for this election.

The names of the candidates are:

  • Pierre Böckmann
  • Stasiek Michalski

The announcement was made on the project mailing list by Ariez Vachha on behalf of the Election Committee.

As from today the election campaign begins. Electronic vote will begin on the 17th of August and ballots will close on the 30th of August.

All the best to both candidates! 👍

Registration for the Virtual Developers Conference is open

Registration for the Virtual Developers Conference 2020 is open since about a week now.

The Developers Conference is made possible thanks to the support of our sponsors, collaborators, speakers, volunteer geeks and of course attendees. Statistics about how many sessions are running, the number of speakers, number of attendees, attendees per session etc, allow us better plan the next conference and get more sponsors on board.

Therefore, we count on you to provide a maximum feedback about the conference. Also, make a lot of noise on social media. 😁

Click here to register NOW!

What do we require in the registration form?

Well, a minimum is your name and email address, so that we can reach out to you before and during conference for updates or changes happening. Other information that you can provide helps us to get an idea on which days and which tracks you are attending.

Extract of the Virtual DevCon registration form
Extract of the Virtual DevCon registration form

If you are wondering about what's this "Bat Cave" and "New Asgard" thing, then know this, when the Comics theme for the Developers Conference, initial scheduled for April 2020, was tossed, the session rooms were each given a game referring to a place as in comics stories. Therefore, the four rooms of the physical conference were given the names as above.

When the organizing team confirmed the virtual conference for this year, the theme stayed, the number of tracks remained unchanged and therefore the "virtual rooms" inherited the same names as initially decided. To keep it even simpler, let's say that the previous room name of "Bat Cave" becomes track name "Bat Cave" for the virtual conference; and note that each track will be a YouTube live stream.

If you head to conference.mscc.mu and scroll down to the sessions schedule you will see how the tracks are represented by the comics names.

Drive slow, drive safe & don’t receive penalties

Lately I noticed a strong presence of police officers, particularly on roads through sugar cane fields, right after a round-about, where visibility of an officer would be poor from several metres away.

I am writing this because I had to pay a fine for driving above the prescribed speed limit. No! I was not racing. I was driving at a comfortable speed not to doze off on the wheel especially when one is surrounded by green fields on both sides. Alas, what I considered a comfortable and safe speed was unfortunately above the 60 km/h speed limit on that road. I was driving at 76 km/h.

I discourage drivers from speeding, not just to avoid a fine, but for the safety of people using the road.

Since the past two weeks I have been trying to keep my focus on the road while driving slow; that is not to fall asleep. Music helps with that.

What does the law say?

Section 124 of the Road Traffic Act mentions the speed limit. In particular paragraph (4)(a) states that:

Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding a prescribed limit shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 5,000 rupees or, in case of a third or subsequent conviction, to a fine exceeding Rs 10,000 rupees.

I was not aware of Section 124(4)(b) until today.

An offender under paragraph (a) shall not be liable to be convicted solely on the evidence of one witness to the effect that, in the opinion of that witness, the offender was driving the motor vehicle at any particular speed.

In most cases of speeding drivers either receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) by a police officer or receive a Photographic Enforcement Device Notice by post. In the case of the former, if a driver refuses to accept the offence and he/she does not pay the fixed penalty then criminal proceedings are instituted against the driver; where of course the driver may plead "not guilty" and defend himself/herself. I was told so by the police officer issuing the FPN and it corroborates with Section 193 of the Road Traffic Act.

A fixed penalty must be paid within 21 days of notice.

Source: Seventh Schedule of the Road Traffic Act (Mauritius)

The amounts for the fixed penalties for exceeding speed limits were increased in a proposed amendment of the Road Traffic Act in 2018, such that the new penalties became:

  • Rs 2,500 for exceeding speed limit by not more than 15 km/h.
  • Rs 5,000 for exceeding speed limit by more than 15 but not more than 25 km/h.
  • Rs 10,000 for exceeding speed limit by more than 25 km/h.

In order to pay for a fixed penalty, the driver should attend the appropriate Court as specified in the FPN, produce his/her original driving license and National Identity Card, and pay the specified fine.

Payments are done at the Cash Office of the District Courts, between 09h30 - 12h00 and 13h00 - 14h30 on Monday to Friday. The Moka District Court's Cash Office is open on Saturdays also between 09h30 - 11h00. District Courts are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

In case the last day to pay a fine falls on a Sunday or public holiday then payment can be done the next day without any further penalty. Otherwise, the fine amount is doubled if the last day is missed. 🥺

Facebook Ad promotes Bitcoin scam in Mauritius

I stumbled upon this advertisement on Facebook today.

It opens the following link:

https://astolona-sinks.myshopify.com/products/bt21-official-merchandise-by-line-friends-cooky-character-enamel-passport-holder-cover?id=4697&id2=0pf45b&ad_id=23845080775580476&pixel=883620092130349&fbclid=IwAR10h4m8CYrlNSS_7jMler69a-TTGHQ5qWagwMCcB3s0IhZ2DnCaHagUT8I

I have put the link here for information purposes only. Do not open the link unless you understand the risk and know what you are doing.

The link opens a Shopify webpage with an article saying that "Mauritian Politician Roshi Bhadain appeared on MBC News and announced a new wealth loophole which he says can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months."

The article encourages readers to invest their money through a cryptocurrency auto-trading program called Bitcoin Storm. It provides instructions on how to deposit money.

Instructions to deposit money on the right of the article

The article also contains testimonials of people with photos, which I believe could have been ripped from social media accounts of Mauritians. I blurred two persons in the second screenshot above.

This is a scam and I would urge people NOT to click on any link on the page NEITHER to share the article on Facebook or WhatsApp.

I was surprised how this ad could stay online on Facebook as the content of the page is clearly a scam. I tried to report the article on MAUCORS but I keep getting a "page not found" error after I sign in every time. So, I gave up and instead reported it to the Citizen Support Unit.

I also reported the advertisement as scam to Facebook.

Lastly, the scam page appears to have been a Shopify hijack which is another cause of concern if Shopify apps could contain vulnerabilities. The actual Shopify page that was hijacked by the Bitcoin scammer looks as follows:

On that note, stay safe online! 😉