Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Choked Drain in Rotan Lane/Race Cource Road

Reply from NEA:

"Kindly refer to your e-mail dated 19 August appended below. We have reminded URA on the need to step up cleansing maintenance of the car parks and drains at Rotan Lane/Kinta Road/Chander Road area. They have since deployed their workers and thoroughly spruced up the site on 29August 2005. We are working closely with URA to ensure that drains do not breed mosquitoes . Please see the attached photos.(See attached file: closed_perimeter_drain_in_ura_carpark.jpg)(See attachedfile: cleansing_work__in-process_by_ura.jpg) We will continue to monitor the site closely. Please contact Mr Abdul Majidat HP 91003740 if you require further assistance. Thank you for the feedback."

Following sent to the NEA:

"Attention: Mr. Abdul Majid,

It was reported in the Newspaper that more than 10 cases of dengue fever occurred in Race Course Road.Yet my complaint about the Choked Drain was left untouched for more than a Mosquitoe's life cycle. See pictures attached. Kindly refer to my complaint on 18th August last week.You told me that the area is not under your jurisdiction.It belongs to URA and that you will contact URA to do something.URA has yet to do response to my complaint.Did you inform URA?I noticed that the area under your jurisdiction has been cleared.Thank you for that.The pictures is taken today,19/8/2005.It is more than enough time given for the Dengue Mosquitoes Larvae to mature into adults. Can you direct me to the right person and provide me"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

You can SMS me at (65) 98189123

For expediency and wider reach, you can SMS me on locations of potential breeding at my mobile 98189123. Thanks

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Channel News Asia (24 Aug 2005) - NEA focuses on drain flushing to fight rising dengue cases

Finally, NEA has decided to do more about potential breeding areas in public drains. It has also decided to put up information about dengue clusters on its website - link on this blog at Weekly Dengue Clusters Update (refer to my appeal for such information on this blog on 15 Aug, "Appeal to NEA on 15 Aug 2005 for information on known dengue clusters" . This is a good start. Following extracted from CNA 24 Aug:

Posted: 24 August 2005 - NEA focuses on drain flushing to fight rising dengue cases
By Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : A total of 7,403 cases of dengue fever has been reported in the first eight months of this year. This is nearly double the number of 3,782 cases for the same period last year. Concerned with its resurgence, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has set aside an additional $7.5 million to flush the drains, a common breeding home for mosquitoes. This is on top of the $2.5 million spent yearly for this purpose. Common areas like pump rooms and water tanks are fast becoming hotspots for mosquito breeding - up from 21 percent last year to 36 percent this year. Latest figures show the three largest dengue clusters in Singapore are Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 with 15 reported cases, Choa Chu Kang Central with 11 and Marsiling Drive with 10. To further curb the rise, the NEA has extended its efforts by putting up a websiteto highlight the location of the clusters. From August 25, the public can find out about possible dengue cases in certain areas. The information will be updated weekly. NEA has also been recruiting more field inspectors this year - from 110 to 360. A further 150 will be recruited in the next two months. By year end, there will be over 500 inspectors - four times more than the number last year. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister, said: "We will work with the town councils to see whether they can hire dedicated pest control operators, which means there is an operator that they have hired that will do more flushing of the drains, fogging, clearing of the sites. Because you have to check constantly the pump rooms, the water tanks, because all these are common areas." So far, Jurong, Hong Kah and Sembawang Town Councils have hired dedicated pest control operators targeting the breeding sites found in common areas. Although more households may be aware of dengue, this has not been translated much to action. The number of breeding sites at construction sites has fallen to 9 percent, but that in residential homes was down by only 5 percent to 55 percent. So the government is calling on all Singaporeans, including community organisations and condominium operators, to play their part. Dr Yaacob said: "On our part, NEA is prepared to work to spend money, to play our part but we cannot do it alone, we have to do it with our partners so Singaporeans, community organisations, town councils, condominium operators will have to play their part together with us." The Health Ministry is also working with doctors who had dengue patients to help identify the infected places. In July this year, the NEA announced it would spend $10 million on dengue prevention measures - putting up posters at bus-stops and MRT stations. - CNA/de

Copyright © 2005 MCN International Pte Ltd

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Letter published in The Straits Times, 22 Aug: Monitor drains more closely for mosquitoes

Letter published in the Straits Times, 22 Aug:

Monitor drains more closely for mosquitoes
Monday, 22 August 2005

Other than the blog of clogged drains started by Mr Jeffrey Ho (“Man starts blog to track mosquito sites”, ST, Aug 17), I hope the public will use the toll-free hotline to the National Environment Agency (NEA), 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255632).

NEA investigations “show that 75 per cent of mosquitoes found breeding in drains belong to the Culex species, while just 25 per cent are dengue-carrying Aedes variety”, and that drains make up “just 6 per cent” of areas found breeding Aedes mosquitoes.

However, this last percentage relates only to breeding grounds known to NEA. It does not include unattended choked drains and the actual percentage is therefore higher.

Mr S. Satish Appoo of NEA writes of public drains that the “frequency of cleaning is adjusted to accommodate ground conditions” (“Aedes mosquitoes breed mostly in homes; ST, July 30). If roadsides need to be swept daily to keep them free of leaves, surely nearby drains should be cleared of leaves at least once a week, if not daily?

NEA contacted me after my letter was printed (“Mosquito breeding: public drains key culprit?”; ST, July 22), to check the location of the two drains. One was cleared on July 25 but was not touched again for at least two weeks after that.

The other drain I mentioned with stagnant water is about 100m long. If 25 per cent of the mosquitoes that breed in drains are the dengue-transmitting Aedes species, then of 100m of stagnant water in a drain, 25m (equal to more than 50 flowerpot plates) will breed Aedes mosquitoes.

How long does a flowerpot plate breed mosquitoes before it is detected by the home owner or NEA? Apparently, in a public drain, mosquitoes keep breeding until the water dries up or heavy rain flushes the drain clean.

Studies have shown that in this climate, mosquitoes need only seven days to mature from eggs. What if eggs or larvae are caught in moss or crevices in drains, and are not swept away by heavy rain? Then it will take them only a few more days to become adult mosquitoes (and not seven days after heavy rainfall).

By replying that “our studies have found that the mosquitoes that breed in the drains are mostly of the Culex species”, NEA surely does not mean it is all right for drains to breed mosquitoes? When “mostly” turns out to be 75 percent, one wonders how many Aedes mosquitoes make up the remaining 25 percent. One-quarter of all choked drains is a significant portion.

Even if some mosquitoes do not transmit dengue or malaria, their bites cause mush discomfort.

Gwee Jin Eng (Ms)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thomson Road - choked drain outside Thomson Vale

Reply from NEA:

"Please refer to your feedback below. Coincidentally, our officer Mr Hussain inspected the drain on 22 August 05 at about 11.30 am and found the unsatisfactory condition. He then alerted our cleansing contractor and the drain was subsequently spruced up in the afternoon. We have warned our contractor to maintain it regularly. I wish to apologise for the late reply. Thank you for the feedback.

Nordin Sulaiman
Manager (Tg Pagar GRC2)·
Sanitation and Vector Control·
Central RegionalOffice·
National Environment Agency·
DID+65 62639312
Fax+65 62739641"

Photo taken on 22 Aug 2005 at 11.48 am

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Outbreak at Blk 672B Klang Lane/Little India

Contributor response to NEA dated 1 Sept:
"Attention: Tan Wei Wei,

Thank you for your reply and updates on the actions taken.You confirmed that Mosquitoes were breeding in the places I reported. Why no effort was made to clear the chocked drain?Pictures of the dirty Drop-Inlet-Chamber (DIC) and the choked drain was taken on 31/8/2005 and 1st September2005 - today.It is evident that nothing was done. Kindly advise."

Reply from NEA:
"I refer to your e-mail of 25 August 2005 on the above-mentioned subject, which was addressed to the Minister of Health.
2. Thank you for your feedback. Our records show that our field officers had found mosquito breeding in the drain next to Block 671A Klang Lane on 18 Aug 05. The breeding habitats were eliminated and the Town Council was alerted to clear the drains and spruce up the area. Our subsequent follow-up inspections disclosed no further mosquito breeding in the area.
3. We also appreciate your feedback on portable public toilets. Our check following your feedback revealed that 3 out of the 7 portable toilets had been vandalized resulting in leakage of wastewater. We have since gotten the mobile toilet contractor to repair the toilets and clean up the area. The contractor has also been asked to make regular checks to ensure that the portable toilets are functional.
4. As for the dirty Drop-Inlet-Chamber (DIC) and the drain along Chander Road, they have since been spruced up. NEA also proceeded to take enforcement action against five food shop operators in the area for various public health infringements. They have also been warned not to discharge sullage water or food waste into the public drains.
5. Should you require further assistance, you may contact our Manager for the area, Mr Nordin Sulaiman at DID 62639312 or call our NEA Call Centre at 1800-2255632.
6. Thank you very much for your valuable feedback.

Yours faithfully,

From a contributor:

"To: abdul_majid_mohd_zain@nea.gov.sg - Attention: Mr.Abdul Majid,

Kindly refer to our meeting this afternoon at Klang Lane. As highlighted to you before and now, Blk 672B is infested with mosquitoes. The Portable Toilets in the URA carparks beside the Indian Temple is always overflowing and is an ugly sight to Tourists and many students who visit the Temple for their Social Studies. The drainage along Rotan Lane and Chander Road is choked with "CURRY". See Pictures attached. I would appreciate NEA do something about it. Little India is a smelly place.There is no doubt about it.This is what many of my Overseas friends have commented. I fully agreed."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Outbreak in the Lady Hill Road area

Reply from NEA:

"Please refer to the feedback from Ms Claire L Beswick below.

Our investigation carried out on 20 August 2005 show that apart from some leaves, the cul-de-sac and drains at Lady Hill Road were found to be in satisfactory condition and free from mosquito breeding. We alerted our cleansing contractor and the site was immediately spruced up. They have been reminded to adhere strictly to the cleansing schedules.We had also inspected the rooftop of house no 6, Lady Hill Road which is currently undergoing minor renovation works. It was found to be dry and no stagnant water or mosquito breeding was detected. Nonetheless we will be serving a CVPA Order on the contractor requiring him to ensure that the site is free from mosquito breeding. Enforcement action will be taken if he fails to comply.

Our records show that there were no reported dengue cases for the past one month at Lady Hill Road area. My officers had tried to contact Miss Claire on her cell phone and visited her residence on two occasions but to no avail.Please convey our findings to Ms Claire. If she requires further assistance, she could contact the officer- in-charge of the area Mr Jumahinat DID 62639312. We will continue to monitor the site.

Thank you for the feedback.

Best regards.
Nordin SulaimanManager (Tg Pagar GRC2)
Sanitation and Vector Control
Central RegionalOffice
National Environment Agency
DID+65 62639312
Fax+65 62739641"

Following from a contributor:

"Mr Ho is to be congratulated for his vigilance in trying to do something - anything - to stem the rising number of Dengue Fever cases in Singapore. Having just recovered from this excruciating, yet preventable virus, I am still waiting for the National Environment Agency to inspect our residential cul-de-sac and deal with the choked drains on neighbouring roof-tops that are almost certainly the cause of an outbreak in our vicinity. Two other cases of Dengue Fever in our neighbourhood were reported in the same week as mine. Hardly a coincidence.

It seems extraordinary that Singapore has been so successful in eradicating so many diseases including Tuberculosis, Yellow Fever and Cholera; yet the control of a known killer still manages to evade the immense resources of an organisation such as the NEA. Just as the mandatory subscription to responsible waste management services is enforced in Singapore, so should every property owner and tenant be required to deal immediately with stagnant water and blocked drains that are inevitably the source of mosquitoes. No one would put up with the stench and health risks associated with piles of rotting rubbish being piled up on the footpath from a neighbour’s house, so why do we have to put up with stagnant! water?

It begs the question; if a vaccine were available to individuals travelling to Dengue Fever infected countries, how would Singapore react to being on a list of countries that the World Health Organisation deemed to be “High Risk”?

My bet is that the authorities here would do more to protect our tourism revenues and investments by actively assuring the international community that Singapore is a safe country, where the risks of viral infection is extremely low.

Claire L. Beswick"

Article in The Straits Times, 17 August 2005 - "Man starts blog to track mosquito sites"

Please click on link for said article - http://www.asiaone.com.sg/st/st_20050817_335005.html

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Martia Road construction site

NEA's reply:

"I refer to your e-mail feedback dated 17 Aug 2005 to MCYS Feedback Unit which was directed to NEA for our attention.

Upon receiving your feedback, we had checked the implicated construction site and found no mosquito breeding. Piling work had been completed while work on the basement is in progress. The building contractor M/s Ever NewBuilders Pte Ltd has also engaged their pest control operator M/s Killem Pest for environmental control measures within their construction site. The site is regularly monitored and inspected at least once a month. So far no mosquito breeding was detected from this site. Thank you for your feedback and concerns.

Lai Kok Peck
Manager, Customer Relation / Surveillance & Intelligence
South East Regional Office
The National Environment Agency
DID +65 67404120
Fax +65 67473863"

construction site along Martia Road, directly opposite Martia 8 condominium, near CHIJ Katong primary school:


although even before construction work started, there were already dengue cases in the neighbourhood....once there was some (NEA?) banner stating the number of dengue cases within the last 1 (or 2?) weeks hung on the railings beside a drain here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Known dengue clusters in Teck Whye, Woodlands, Upper Boon Keng, Yishun and Ang Mo Kio

NEA's reply on 16 Aug 2005 on known dengue clusters:

"Thanks for your feedback. Some of these dengue areas are Teck Whye, Woodlands, Upper Boon Keng,Yishun and Ang Mo Kio. NEA informs residents in the affected areas by sending them dengue alert letters which advises them to get rid of potential mosquito breeding habitats. NEA also place dengue educational banners and posters up in the affected areas so that everyone including residents of surrounding estates would be aware of the dengue cluster situation in their neighbourhood. Such banners display information like how many cases are there and location of the dengue cluster and when the first case started.

Best regards
Ginny Tan
Manager (Situation Room), Operations
Environmental Health Department
The National Environment Agency"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Appeal to NEA on 15 Aug 2005 for information on known dengue clusters

Following sent to NEA on 15 Aug 2005 to appeal for information on known dengue clusters:

"I understand cluster areas may change from time to time, but would you be able to let me know the latest known dengue clusters in Singapore? I honestly feel such information should be openly available to residents in Singapore given the huge increase in dengue cases in recent months. Besides, the mosquitoes are known to be able to cover quite a wide area (so I was told by NEA officials), so it would be useful for residents in surrounding estates to be vigilant if there are known dengue clusters in their neighbourhood. Thank you

Ginny TAN wrote:

Dear Jeff,

We thank you for your feedback.We will consider uploading the list of dengue areas on our website.The dengue clusters as mentioned in the media are areas where there aremore than one dengue cases reported.Close monitoring of these clusters would facilitate early intervention byour staff to break the dengue transmission in these areas.The cluster areas may change from time to time depending on the denguecases and the mosquito population.We will make known these areas to the media when dengue cases are high sothat the public are kept informed of the dengue situation in Singapore.We also inform residents living in the vicinity of a dengue cluster so thatthey are aware of the situation and can help get rid of potential breedinghabitats in their homes.

Best regards
Ginny TanManager (Situation Room), Operations
Environmental Health Department
The National Environment Agency "

Monday, August 15, 2005

Stagnant water at HDB upgrading work at Blk 516 Jurong West Str 51.

See stagnant water at HDB upgrading work at Blk 516 JurongWest Str 51.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Known dengue case in Geylang East - Central Grove

The following message was sent to the NEA on 9 Aug 2005:

"I’ve just learned today (9 Aug 2005) that a friend is now hospitalised with dengue. He lives in the Central Grove condo in Geylang East.

Perhaps it is useful for the NEA to advise the public where the active dengue clusters are so that the residents there can be more vigilant. I'd suggest they do so through a weekly update up its website, http://app.nea.gov.sg/ , or they can provide such weekly information to me and I'll post it up through my blog, http://www.denguealert.blogspot.com/ .

Thank you"

9 Aug 2005

Reply from NEA on 12 Aug 2005:
"We thank you for your feedback.We will consider uploading the list of dengue areas on our website.

The dengue clusters as mentioned in the media are areas where there are more than one dengue cases reported. Close monitoring of these clusters would facilitate early intervention byour staff to break the dengue transmission in these areas. The cluster areas may change from time to time depending on the denguecases and the mosquito population.

We will make known these areas to the media when dengue cases are high so that the public are kept informed of the dengue situation in Singapore. We also inform residents living in the vicinity of a dengue cluster so that they are aware of the situation and can help get rid of potential breeding habitats in their homes.

Best regards
Ginny Tan
Manager (Situation Room), Operations
Environmental Health Department
The National Environment Agency
DID +65 67319053
Fax +65 67345787"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Choked drain - Gilstead Rd outside No 42 across from No 43A - 6 Aug 2005 taken at 11.49 am

Another choked drain in the Newton/Bukit Timah neighbourhood. See how easy it is for stagnant water to collect in drains where there is a ready supply of fallen leaves !!

Update from NEA:
"Our cleansing contractor was alerted on 8 Aug 05 and immediately cleared the choked drains at the implicated sites (Gilstead Road & Chancery Lane). Thanks for the feedback
Nordin SulaimanManager (Tg Pagar GRC2)
Sanitation and Vector Control
Central Regional Office
The National Environment Agency
DID +65 62639312
Fax +65 62739641"

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Choked drain at road divider across 34 Chancery Lane

Photo taken at 7.38 am, 5 Aug 2005 at subject location. The NEA should seriously consider covering up drains that are depositories for fallen leaves, especially those that are not sufficiently inclined.

Update: Another choked drain at Dorset Road between Owen & Durham Roads - posted 1 Aug

Reply from NEA, 3 August 2005:

"Our inspection showed that although there was chokage in the drain, no mosquito breeding was detected. The chokage has since been cleared. We had reminded our workman to maintain the drain according to the twice weekly schedule to ensure that the drain is satisfactorily maintained to avert any mosquito breeding or public health nuisance.

We have also forwarded a copy of your feedback to Drainage Departmentto look into the possibility of covering up the drain.

Please feel free to contact our offficer in charge of the area at DID 62639312
if your require further assistance.

Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Yours faithfully

Nordin SulaimanManager (Tg Pagar GRC2)
Sanitation and Vector Control
Central Regional Office
The National Environment Agency
DID +65 62639312
Fax +65 62739641 "

Friday, August 05, 2005

Possible breeding ground near Block 517A, Jurong West St 52

Another contributor submitted the following today, 4 Aug 2005 (without photo):

"I suspect the mosquito breeding ground is at the multi-storey carpark next to my block
(blk 517a Jurong West Str 52). I wonder if NEA would fine the town council if thebreeding ground is found at the carpark."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Update: Fallen leaves at drain between Dunearn Rd & Goldhill Ave (previously reported on 30 July) now cleared

Further to my earlier posting on 30 July, this is an updated photo taken at 7.35 am, 3 Aug which shows that the leaves at the subject location have been cleared, presumably by NEA or its contractors. This allows water in the drain to flow freely without any obstruction. Good work and thanks !

By the way, please read a well-written letter by Ms Helen Lyen in the Straits Times today, 3 Aug, "Curbing dengue scourge: Money down the drain?". My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another choked drain at Dorset Road between Owen & Durham Roads

Sent to NEA on 2 Aug 2005:

This photo (can be viewed on 1 Aug posting) was taken last evening at 6.24 pm, 1 Aug 2005.

It seems every corner one turns, one can see drains choked with fallen leaves, especially the uncovered ones. But I also noticed that where there was chokage, the drains were almost level, hence the drainage was bad, causing accumulation of the leaves and debris. If only there was more gradient in these drains, the drainage would improve.

Is it then due to the design of these drains, ie should they be more "inclined" to allow natural flow? Another solution will be to cover these drains up (pave them) so that they will not collect leaves and debris, but then they would not be so visible to the public if there was stagnant water under the pavement.

As advised in my email earlier, for regular updates of potential mosquito breeding grounds, please visit the blog, www.denguealert.blogspot.com set up specifically so that everyone can play a part in fighting this menace which has seen a rise in recent months. On their part, the residents can help monitor the situation in public areas (besides their own premises), while the NEA can follow up with appropriate action once they are alerted to these potential hazards. NEA should also be vigilant when it comes to potential breeding grounds in unoccupied homes/offices/premises and construction sites (in addition to the public areas), with stricter monitoring and enforcement penalties against recalcitrant offenders (using the 3-strikes-you're-out system?). Only through such concerted efforts can the problem be contained, and hopefully eradicated. The government must have the political will to give this problem the priority it deserves because I believe every Singaporean knows of relatives or friends who have suffered or their loved ones suffer through such terrible ordeal of being a victim of Dengue fever.


Another choked drain at Dorset Road between Owen & Durham Roads (see update 5 Aug above)

This photo was taken at 6.24 pm today, 1 August 2005 along Dorset Road. It seems most if not all the public drains (at least the uncovered ones) are choked with fallen leaves and/or debris, a by-product of our garden city aspirations and litterbugs. One wonders why this happens almost without fail at all the public drains. Then it dawned on me that maybe it's the way the drains are designed as they are almost level - they are not inclined enough to improve drainage; if only they had more gradient, the problem might not be as widespread. Then again, perhaps it's easier to just cover these drains up!