Today’s joke comes from the Presidential address delivered yesterday. Paragraph 105 reads:

“Government, in its attempt to alleviate and solve the traffc congestion problem, will soon embark on a Bus Modernization Programme to upgrade bus services throughout the island. The aim being to offer fast, frequent, convenient and more attractive services to the commuters. This programme also includes the construction of an alternative mode of transport on the Curepipe-Port Louis corridor. The metro-léger project will be reconsidered.”

So the light rail system is back on the drawing board. I am quite familiar with this project since I was involved in the tender exercise in 1998…Gulp…that was 12 years ago! Not only had the light railway between Curepipe and Port Louis been approved, but an ultra-light tramway was even considered within the capital:

The government of Mauritius has accepted the offer of a British firm and its local partner to do a feasibility study for an ultra light rail intra-urban transport system in the City of Port Louis and its vicinity. A preliminary study in 1996 recommended the use of ultra light tramways as an alternative to the existing bus system to relieve traffic congestion and parking problems in the capital. The initial study recommended 23 trams capable of transporting at least 30 passengers each. The proposed tramway runs on electricity and is equipped with self-powered batteries. It will have no overhead cables and is considered environmentally friendly. The tramway project in Port Louis will complement the 15-mi (24-km) light railway project between suburban Curepipe and Port Louis, which the government has been considering for some years now. Tenders for construction of the light railway on a B-O-T basis are expected to be issued in mid-1998. (Source: TRIS)

We have had a transport problem for decades, but when it comes to finding solutions, successive governments have been moving backwards. I have more chance in winning the national lottery than seeing a light rail system completed in my life time…and I never buy a ticket! According to government estimates, the current cost of traffic congestion in Mauritius is Rs.1.2 Billion per year. Bearing in mind that the problem was not so bad 12 years ago, that probably means a total loss of around Rs. 10 Billion over the period. How much would a light rail system have cost? According to another government report in 2001: Rs. 6.2 Billion (equivalent to about $10 Billion today). Oops…

STOP PRESS: An even better joke from the University of Mauritius: Free roller coaster – the double twisted helix.