Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan in a Facebook post on Friday (13 November) slammed the Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JRTC) and National Environment Agency (NEA) for allegedly failing to address residents’ complaints, which resulted in the dengue cluster at Blok 191 in Bukit Batok.
Dr Chee said he had visited Block 191 yesterday after he was alerted by a resident that there was a sump — part of a drainage system that collects and drains off water — near the Block that contained stagnant water.
“As you can see from the photo, the sump was constructed in such a manner that the in/out pipes draining it are above the bottom of the structure.
“The water coming in has nowhere to go and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” he said, referring to the photo he uploaded in his post.
Dr Chee said that the resident had written to the NEA and JRTC on 3 November to alert the authorities of the issue.
NEA reportedly replied that the stagnant water ‘had been removed immediately’, adding that it was monitoring the situation and would not hesitate to ‘take action against anyone found committing the mosquito breeding offence’,” he noted.
Dr Chee said that the resident had notified the NEA again after six days regarding the same issue, which he believed was caused by the recent frequent rain.
NEA, said Dr Chee, however, “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”.
A cluster of dengue fever cases was reported at Block 191 on 11 November where the NEA said that the two cases are from Block 190 & 191, said Dr Chee.
Highlighting that “the problem is wrong on so many levels”, the SDP chief then posed a series of questions, condemning the authorities for failing to address the problem raised by the resident:
1. Which bright spark placed the sump pipes above the water?
2. 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.
3. 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? Note: NEA was referring to the water blockage and not the stagnant water itself.
4. Does JRTC know what it’s talking about? The problem is not one of blockage but faulty construction of the sump.
5. Even more inexcusable is why, after nearly a week later, was the problem not rectified as evidenced by stagnant water collecting again?
6. Will NEA now take firm action against JRTC as it has repeated promised? The Agency has been issuing fines against households for such careless acts.
Noting that he had highlighted in his Facebook post on 7 July about the blocked drainage and the possibility of a dengue outbreak, Dr Chee said: “Now, it seems that the lack of effort and attention has 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,” he stressed.