Week 15, (start 10th April)
Good news on the Air Mauritius front. New and old connections are seeing the light and that is good for everybody! Starting in April there are 2 flights a day to Pierrefonds in La Réunion (they have 2 airports and this is the smaller one). More interesting is the Amsterdam-Mauritius direct flight, a 3rd flight per week to Singapore and the re-opening of Geneva-Mauritius during the high season (Nov 2017-Feb 2018). Air Mauritius has had some very bad years but the last 2 have been quite good for the national carrier – they have cut a lot of lines and worked very hard to achieve this and it’s nice to see results. This year for their 50th anniversary they are giving out a special bonus and their return on shares has also revisited (not much, but still). Now we just need the new planes (already ordered), a little bit of work on the service side and it will be like in the good old days when I took Air Mauritius for the first time.
Not so much the Mauritian news, as Mauritius in the news. I was browsing through Facebook yesterday and stumbled on this article in the Guardian: Saved: the endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The reason I clicked had nothing to do with Mauritius but because of the animal on this picture:I love mantas, rays in general and really anything you find in the ocean. I had the chance to snorkel with mantas in the Maldives, but that’s a story for another day.
Back to my article: it showcases several animals that were nearly extinct and have somewhat recovered. Like the Pacific Oceanic Manta, the Panda in China and the Echo Parakeet in Mauritius.
Now in the article they make it sound like this little fellow is flying everywhere, but it is not. I have never seen it in the wild – I went to have a look at the Mauritian wildlife website – and here is what it says: in 1986 there were only about 8-12 recorded – but it is thought there might have been a bit more than that. They can now only be found in the Black River Gorges National Park (in the south). It is the only endemic parrot left in the Mascareignes islands (out of 6).
The IUCN status: in 2007 the Echo Parakeet was the only species to be downlisted on the IUCN Red List from Critically Endangered to Endangered. (IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Ever thought about how much prime minister’s car is worth in Mauritius? Well I can answer that for you and for a good reason. A little political scandal (we love them here, big or small – not that it ever changes anything to the way things are done on the island) is in the news this Wednesday. Our current Prime Minister denounced the former head of government, Mr. Navin Ramgoolam. Apparently, he changed official car 3 times between 2010 and 2013; we are not talking a small car here. In 2010 he bought a BMW 660i and charged the good people of Mauritius Rs19.8M (US$ 560k). In 2011, he got himself a small Mercedes S600, value? Rs21M (US$ 600k) and finally in 2013, he went back to another BMW that cost a mere RS23.5M (US$ 660k). The Mauritian state must be infinite rich!!! Our current Prime Minister would like to underline that he uses his dad’s (former PM) BMW (price Rs19.5M) – that was bought in November 2016 – so we really thank him for that…. Rumors go that he has a special massage seat in the car, but he denied.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit about wages on the island and the fact that there is no minimum wage (read it here). This week in the news there has been a lot of talk about the minimum wage. A consultative council, the National Wage consultative council, has been studying what this minimum wage should be. An article on page 2 of l’Express today, and also in other papers, comes back on the indicative proposition: between Rs7’500 and Rs8’200. Some syndicates agree, some say it’s too much (frightened that workers might be laid off) and some say it is really not enough, should be more around Rs18’000. It’s funny to know that the expats have a minimum wage already Rs45’000 – that’s the minimum to be able to get a work visa. Differences?
There is a small add on to the article explaining where Sunita (a cleaning lady working at a school!) explains that her monthly salary is Rs1’500 (US$40), that for her it would be amazing if it went up. Another table shows that 20’000 people earn less than Rs3’500. Then the Prime Ministers have cars that are worth over US$600’000 … talk about inequalities. They have been working for such a long time on this minimum wage thing, let’s see what happens.
In today’s paper is celebrated the 15th anniversary of the first private radio: Radio Plus. I think TV wise there is the one and only MBC (Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation), state TV – where you still have the National Anthem played (is it in the morning or the evening, or both?) and the PM and his political alleys get over half the time allocated to the news. I remember first time I heard a national anthem on the TV like that (I mean everyday) was when I visited the Ivory Coast, as a kid, back in the mid 1980’s. I wonder if they still do it today! A great way of keeping the patriotic fire going. Anyways the Radio: political discussions and taboo questions are what these radios are living on. There is a serious gap on the radio market though – none really for the younger generation or for the seniors for that matter, it’s a shame. Alongside this anniversary, a demonstration was held in Port Louis – against drugs. A couple of years back, the Minister of Health got the not-so-great idea to close down the Methadone program and replace it by ‘i don’t know what’. They closed down centres nearly from one day to another. Well there is a new Minister in place now and he announced the come back of the program. The news has been widely applauded.
That’s it for this week! Hope you have had a beautiful Easter week end.