By Hallum Cowell | Deputy Editor
Following a large oil spill off the coast of Mauritius thousands have joined protests arguing the government could have done more to prevent the disaster. If estimates are to be believed, 100,000 people took to the streets against the “incompetent” government, making this the largest protests the island nation has seen in 40 years.
The oil spill occurred when a large oil tanker, carrying an estimated 1,000 tonnes of crude oil, struck a coral reef on July 25. Experts have said that the damage will be huge and long-lasting.
Oil spilled into a sanctuary continuing rare wildlife, as well as washing up on 15km of coastline, leading to the death of much of the amphibian life in the region, including 39 dolphins. This disater is the worst the small island nation has seen in recent years.
Protesters are angered by the government response to the spill. The government took no action to remedy the disaster until 12 days after the incident. When action was taken the Mauritian government choose to sink half the ship that was still afloat, rather than tow it to dock, risking further damage. Many have argued the Mauritian government is simply not equipped to handle a catastrophe of this magnitude.
Some protesters called for the government to resign while others claimed that the government is hiding information about the disaster.
The disaster has only worsened the tourism situation in Mauritius which relies heavily on the economy generated by tourists. The sector has already been under heavy strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the mishandling of the Mauritius oil spill the United Nations has said it will send a team out to Mauritius to assist with the cleanup. The ship’s captain has also since been arrested and charged with endangering safe navigation.
The UNCTAD commented on the crisis tweeting;
The Mauritius oil spill is a tragic reminder of the environmental threats posed by maritime transport and the urgent need for all countries to adopt the international conventions that govern our seas. https://t.co/Z9eK6RtU2r pic.twitter.com/ySfv3J30h6
— UNCTAD (@UNCTAD) August 19, 2020
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