Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NEA's removal of leaves and litter in (public) drains done only once a week!!

"Of greatest concern is the removal of leaves and litter in drains and surrounding grass verges which is also, at best, done once a week."

The Straits Times - ST Forum
April 25, 2007
Monitor NEA contractors' work in dengue hotspots

DR ONG Siew Chey's letter, 'More trees? Take care that we don't breed mozzies' (ST, April 21), highlighted a disturbing fact: that the sweeping of public places is not as frequent as the National Environment Agency (NEA) seems to think.
NEA contractors seem to have broken down the job formerly done by street sweepers into four parts:
Emptying of trash cans at bus stops and sweeping the immediate area (by a truckload of sweepers moving from one bus stop to the next).
Sweeping of main roads using a large truck with vacuum hoses and brushes.
Sweeping of side roads using a smaller vehicle using similar methods.
Removal of leaves and other litter in public drains and grass verges (also by a team of men) and bagging the refuse for later collection.
The cleaning of bus stops seems to be done nightly and the sweeping of main roads, on a daily basis.
However, the sweeping of side roads is done once a week at most. My neighbour has made it easier by regularly sweeping the roadside leaves into a pile. This pile stays uncollected for days.
Recently, fruit trees produced a bumper harvest. Ripe fruit from an absent neighbour's house fell onto the road and were not removed for at least two weeks.
Of greatest concern is the removal of leaves and litter in drains and surrounding grass verges which is also, at best, done once a week. This is very poorly done - fallen branches are left on the grass next to drains, and I even saw one man using a leaf blower to blow cut grass into the monsoon drain, to avoid sweeping it from the grassy areas. Is it any wonder that when the rains finally come after a dry spell, flooding sometimes occurs in places that never experienced flooding before?
NEA has stated before that dry weather is when mosquitoes breed outdoors. This is because heavy rain will wash mosquito eggs and larvae away, except in containers and pools. Therefore, if dead leaves which collect water are left undisturbed in dry weather, mosquito eggs may hatch. It is time that the NEA employed people to monitor its contractors' performance, especially in dengue hotspots.
Gwee Jin Eng (Ms)

The Straits Times - ST Forum
April 21, 2007
More trees? Take care that we don't breed mozzies

I AM happy to know that more than 100,000 plants and trees will be planted in our garden city over the next year. However, it is important that the right types of trees are chosen.
We are all aware of the danger of mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water in drains, flower pots and gutters but we seldom pay attention to the leaves that fall from trees.
In the Botanic Gardens fallen leaves are in abundance but the maintenance is so good that they do not constitute a hazard.
The same thing cannot be said for the other side of Cluny Park Road. Many of the trees there have large thick leaves that take weeks or even months to decay. Fallen leaves are found everywhere.
Those in the monsoon drains and on road surfaces get washed away during a heavy rain, but those in the small side drains and on roadsides are rarely cleared, contrary to the claims by private contractors of the National Environment Agency in their flyers.
Aedes mosquito eggs are known to withstand dryness for long periods, and while the small pockets of water on fallen leaves that attract mosquitoes to lay eggs may dry up before hatching takes place, the eggs will hatch with the next rain. I once counted six larvae on one leaf.
It is important for us to choose wisely the trees to plant because of our environment. I hope the authorities will choose those with small or delicate leaves that do not collect pockets of water or which will decay easily.
Dr Ong Siew Chey


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