Sngapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan has spoken up for Bukit Batok SMC residents affected by the dengue menace and has urged the authorities to take immediate action to rectify a construction issue that causes stagnant water to gather when it rains.
Dr Chee, who intends to re-contest the single member ward in the next election, visited Blk 191 Bukit Batok West Ave 6 on Thursday (12 Nov) after two dengue cases were announced in the area. He noticed a sump – part of a drainage system that collects and drains off water – near the block which contained stagnant water.
The sump was constructed in such a manner that the in/out pipes draining it are above the bottom of the structure. Sharing a photo of the sump, Dr Chee pointed out that the water coming into the structure has no place to go and the sump becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
A resident flagged this issue to the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JRTC) on 3 Nov and received a reply from the NEA that the stagnant water “had been removed immediately”.
It apparently told the resident that it was monitoring the situation and would not hesitate to “take action against anyone found committing the mosquito breeding offence.”
Days later, stagnant water had collected in the sump once again due to the frequent rainfall in the weeks before. When the resident notified the NEA of this six days after NEA first replied to him, he received a message from the authority saying that the “water blockage had been treated and cleared by the Town Council”.
NEA apparently repeated its standard line that it was monitoring the situation and that “it will not hesitate to take action against anyone found committing the mosquito breeding offence.”
Three days later, on 11 Nov, the NEA announced that a cluster of dengue fever cases had broken out at Blk 191. Dr Chee, who said he was alerted to the situation on 12 Nov, asserted: “The problem is wrong on so many levels: Which bright spark placed the sump pipes above the water?
“Why did JRTC not take immediate action to rectify the problem? Even a temporary solution like filling up the bottom of the sump with a bag of sand until a permanent one is found could have been done. Why did NEA inform the resident that the “water blockage had been treated and cleared by the Town Council” when this was clearly not the case?”
He also asked: “Does JRTC know what it’s talking about? The problem is not one of blockage but faulty construction of the sump. Even more inexcusable is why, after nearly a week later, was the problem not rectified as evidenced by stagnant water collecting again?”
Questioning whether NEA will “now take firm action against JRTC as it has repeatedly promised,” Dr Chee highlighted the authority’s practice of fining households for such careless acts.
Dr Chee added: “Months ago, I highlighted that drains around the estate were overgrown with plants that blocked drainage and warned that about a dengue outbreak. Now, it seems that the lack of effort and attention may have made my fears a reality.
“I’ve said this repeatedly: Don’t take liberties with the people’s safety. BB residents await JRTC’s immediate action. I will be monitoring the situation.”
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