Christian Bueger, Professor of international relations at the University of Copenhagen, argues that the Mauritius Government response to the MV Wakashio oil spill should be investigated.
Meta: Professor Christian Bueger is asking for an independent commission of inquiry on the oil spill response of the Government of Mauritius
In a column published in The Conversation, Christian Bueger says the Mauritian government was “well aware of the risk.” “Since the 1990s, Mauritius has received substantial capacity-building assistance to prevent an oil spill”, he writes.
He explains that the African nation was a core beneficiary in two multi-million-dollar World Bank projects. Namely, the US$4-million Western Indian Ocean Island Oil Spill Contingency Plan from 1998 and 2003 and the US$24-million Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention Project from 2007-2012.
“The fact that the country lacked a sufficient amount of equipment to contain the Wakashio spill rapidly indicates that despite all the training and experience, Mauritius was still not prepared.”
Christian Bueger is a Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. He is also an honorary professor of the University of Seychelles. He is a research fellow at the University of Stellenbosch and the Co-Director of the SafeSeas network.
The Professor is author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on global governance, international practice theory, the politics of expertise, maritime security, and contemporary maritime crime. In his current grant-funded projects, he is studying regional responses to maritime crime in the Indo-Pacific and maritime security practices in Ghana.
The Professor says only an independent commission of inquiry will help shed light on what happened with the Japanese vessel. “Could the accident and the spill have been prevented? Was the country prepared? Did the coastguard and the company hired to pump oil from the stricken ship react in the right way? Neither the government nor the shipowner and salvage company will likely have an interest in such questions being answered. But an independent public investigation must be launched into the government and industry response to this disaster”, he argues.
An independent environmental assessment may also be of great help, adds the Professor. “It will be in the hands of Mauritian civil society and the global community of conservation activists to ensure that a commission and inquiry is launched urgently,” he says.
This inquiry will also need to offer recommendations for how a similar disaster in the region can be avoided “And this time, action, not lip service, should be demanded of the Mauritian government,” concludes Christian Bueger.