Mitsui Pledges $10 Million in Aid to Mauritius After Wakashio Accident
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) of Japan, which was the charterer of the bulk carrier Wakashio when the vessel grounded on the shores of Mauritius, is pledging nearly $10 million in support to aid in the recovery after the oil spill from the wrecked vessel. This is in addition to the Japanese government's promises of substantial aid and private donations to a range of groups seeking to assist.
MOL said that it is committed to providing long-term aid through support and cooperation with experts and organizations specialized in environmental restoration and protection. Saying that it would work with Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, MOL outlined a series of programs that it plans to support. The shipping line said it would assist with projects for the protection and nurturing of the mangrove trees, the recovery of the coral reef, and protecting and researching seabirds. MOL announced the formation of the Mauritius Natural Environment Recovery Fund that will oversee these projects.
In addition to approximately $7 million that will be given to establish the recovery fund, MOL also announced that it would be donating nearly $1 million to local NGOs and funds established by public agencies including the government of Mauritius and the United Nations.
During its press briefing, MOL also highlighted that it currently has a team of 13 people in Mauritius and that it is committed to opening a local representative office in Mauritius to manage all of its support efforts. Other projects include donating a refrigerated container to Mauritius to assist the local fishing industry. MOL even promised to organize a cruise to the island in 2022 aboard its cruise ship the Nippon Maru.
These efforts are in addition to the on-going global support being provided to the island nation. One NGO on the island announced that it has received over $500,000 in donations coming from 12,000 donors in 121 different countries according to the local newspaper L’Express. Among the donors, they report, were contributors from Japan, England, and the United States. They plan to use the funds to support a variety of training programs on the island.
In the meantime, the investigations are continuing into the causes of the accident. The Panama Maritime Authority recently issued preliminary comments citing issues of seamanship, inattention, and faulty navigation and charts as contributing to the grounding on July 25. They acknowledged the previous speculation that the Wakashio had purposely steered closer to Mauritius seeking a phone or internet signal so the crew could contact family members at home.
The stern section of the vessel remains lodged on the reef at Mauritius while the forward section of the ship was scuttled in deep water after the vessel broke apart. The government has called for a November 1 deadline to remove the stern section before the beginning of the annual storm season.