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Jamie Rountree: “Reshaping Southern Mauritius”

14 avril 2024, 22:00


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Jamie Rountree: “Reshaping Southern Mauritius”

In an exclusive interview with l’express, Jamie Rountree, a visionary entrepreneur with deep Mauritian roots, shares insights into a groundbreaking real estate project in Senneville, Rivière-des-Anguilles. Spanning over 100 acres, this ambitious initiative aims to reshape the southern landscape of Mauritius into a sustainable city, focusing on eco-friendly developments and a community-centric approach. With meticulous planning over two years to meet rigorous legal, environmental, and ecological standards, the project promises a greener future in alignment with the government’s vision. Featuring amenities within a 10-minute walking radius, new business spaces like the Super U development, and solutions for improved living environments, it sets a precedent for sustainable living and commercial hubs. The partnership with entrepreneur Pascal Tsin and lawyer Michael King Fat marks a strategic collaboration to invigorate the South’s economy and quality of life, addressing longstanding development needs, posits Jamie Rountree. Plans include addressing traffic and parking issues, promoting renewable energy, and encouraging active community participation. With support from the Economic Development Board (EDB) and a talented team of consultants, this initiative not only aims to revolutionize living and working spaces but also to integrate sustainable agriculture, enhancing the local ecosystem and community well-being...

L’express first sat with you nearing the end of 2021 to discuss an important real estate project spanning over 100 acres at Senneville, Rivière-des-Anguilles. How is the project moving forward?

We have been masterplanning for the past 2 years, to make sure that we are fully compliant with all the legal, environmental and ecological requirements which need to be met by any promoter involved in a project of such magnitude . We have opted for a ‘greener’ project, in line with government’s vision to promote ‘sustainable’ developments, and which we feel best suits our long-term goals for the country and Rivière-des-Anguilles. These goals involve addressing solutions for improved living environments for the community – for example having facilities all within a ten-minute walking radius to encourage people to walk rather than drive. We will be setting up attractive new business spaces to encourage more commerce and therefore employment opportunities within the area, starting with the Super U development alongside La Baraque Road. The aim in that part of Mauritius is to create beautiful and sustainable living, as well as commercial hubs, that will not only be a source of pride as a wonderful place to live and work, but also position our project as the ‘centre du Sud’ with exceptional amenities for a quality life.

Your meeting with entrepreneur Pascal Tsin and lawyer Michael King Fat might now change the destiny of the South, a region that has, much to the chagrin of its residents, remained sheltered from the gaze of development. Can you tell us more about your strategic partnership and what that entails for the inhabitants of this part of the South?

michael.png Michael King Fat, Pascal Tsin and Jamie Rountree. «The three of us form a strong triumvirate to create a strategic partnership.»

The three of us form a strong triumvirate to create a strategic partnership for the future sustainable ‘centre du sud’ of Mauritius. We have astutely managed to create a debtfree joint venture vehicle, which shall allow us to serenely focus on the agreed development objectives. The brilliant entrepreneur Pascal Tsin is a perfect partner to myself and Michael King Fat in the South. Like Michael and I, he has communities at the core of his thinking, seen in his amazing charitable work towards the needy and his unrelenting quests to enhance the quality of community life. Sustainability is also very important to Pascal, with all the work he does at Super U to help the environmental impact of his business. With Pascal’s enormous wealth of experience of important projects, coupled with our common will to make things happen, I have no doubt that our ambition to change the economic and living landscape of the southern region shall be duly fulfilled.

If you head to the Wild South in the Savanne district, you’ll find a mini-supermarket in La Flora. However, there are limited amenities in areas such as Rivière-du-Poste, Britannia, and Tyack. Further along, in Rivière-des-Anguilles, there’s a significant parking issue. Are there plans to improve traffic flow by opening up more space?

Our project includes a new bypass for Rivière-des-Anguilles, and which should ease the traffic and parking problems in the area. Built into our scheme will be many parking spaces, including a large car park at Super U for shopping purposes. We hope that this will lessen the amount of cars in the more narrow streets, thus creating a better area for walking and bicycling. We have also had preliminary discussions regarding a new road that will come from the airport – so watch this space !

Renewable energy, improved waste management, eco-friendly farms, revamped infrastructure and leisure facilities, and active community participation are all part of your project. Would it be a Smart City or rather a Sustainable City?

Sustainability is at the very centre of our thinking, and the term Sustainable City fits perfectly within our project. We very much feel that we will be at the forefront for innovation. The idea is to involve the community with the farm and various other projects that we are planning. The American ideal of an agri-hood, where local people can purchase local produce, is surely the future for projects such as this.

How have authorities like the EDB welcomed your project, which will require a substantial investment?

The support of the EDB is key to any project of such magnitude; and we are lucky to have the guidance of its very competent and dedicated officers. Thanks to the coordination and assistance of the EDB, all the relevant authorities are working closely with our consultants to ensure that our project ticks all the boxes.

Have you already formed your team of consultants?

We currently have a very experienced and knowledgeable team of consultants, but will always look for other expertise where needed.

We understand that the master plan includes residential areas [apartments, subdivisions, homes for the elderly, etc.] and commercial spaces [private clinics, car dealerships, home and garden stores, etc.] and, since the beginning, you have emphasized that your project will primarily focus on the involvement of residents from various villages in the South in the activities generated by this sustainable development, while also contributing to job creation and improving their quality of life.

Can you elaborate...

This project will be by Mauritians, for Mauritians and about Mauritians. It is a longterm plan, that will involve many different initiatives along the way; and the bottom line is to get our project to integrate and adapt to the community, for the benefit of all inhabitants of all villages of the southern region, irrespective of creed, religion or social background.

The framework will be put in place so that all aspects of modern and sustainable living can flourish here. To coin a phrase, we are planting trees under whose shade we may never sit. For example, the beautiful trees along La Baraque Road shall be an important part of the landscape. It is key to create a ‘green culture’ that will not only influence the current generation, but will span over at least the next 2-3 generations and give them great opportunities for employment, learning and – most importantly – happiness.


You are also involved in agricultural activities, like sugar and vegetable growing; how would the property development project impact on these agricultural activities ?

I will surprise you; my long-term plan is to maintain and revamp our agricultural activities through an equally sustainable farm, similar to the project. For that we need a wellrun and efficient farm with an excellent team. We already have the team in place, and the new projects are being currently worked out. Hopefully, we will soon move to another level with new agricultural related activities which shall benefit the property project, create new employment opportunities and add value to what we currently do. We remain committed to produce excellent food for the table.

Can you tell us more about yourself and your family?

jamie.png Jamie and his wife Chantelle Rountree.

I am a citizen of Mauritius and very lucky to have grown up in a family with Mauritian ancestors who loved their homeland, and left a lasting impression on me despite my UK upbringing. My grandmother (Patricia Wilson Rountree) loved people, and always wanted the best for anyone she met. Recently I attended a small gathering at a new sports centre in Rivière-des-Anguilles that was named after her, where I was delighted to see (and she would have been thrilled) that both old and young residents enjoyed the facilities together. At heart I am a conservationist, and love the wild aspect of the south of Mauritius with its verdant green landscapes and flourishing biodiversity of species. I also understand, through my grandmother, that people should be at the heart of all projects, and the mantra ‘Health, Wealth and Happiness’ for everyone locally should be at the core.

Jamie Rountree with the council of Rivière-des-Anguilles at the new sports centre named after Patricia (Patsy) Wilson Rountree sport centre.png The new Sports Center was recently inaugurated by Renganaden Padayachy, Kailesh Jagutpal and Ismael Rawoo. Jamie Rountree met with the village councilors during his visit in Mauritius.

“Patsy Rountree, who was a great Mauritian artist and the owner of Bel Air Sugar Estate near Rivière-des-Anguilles. Her brother was a famous artist called Frank Avray Wilson who, after he left Mauritius and sold the estate Benares, was the first artist to bring abstract expressionist art to Britain. Patsy had a passion for helping people, and especially people who were less fortunate than herself. I always remember from an early age whenever I visited my grandmother that people around her would say how generous she was, and how she was always trying to find ways of improving local environs, whether by helping to build a school, or by gifting land for religious centres to be built, and other such projects.”