Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Act gives more bite to council

Star: The Subang Jaya Municipal Council has resorted to “breaking” into vacant houses in USJ 11 to check for mosquito larvae and fog the premises. MPSJ says it has no choice but to do so after exhausting all avenues to contact the owners.
In the recent operation, headed by the council's Health Department chief Dr Suriani Ismail, about 15 MPSJ staff and enforcement officers “broke” into five houses. Five police personnel accompanied them.
The council also engaged the services of a locksmith to help pick the locks.
In cases where heavy-duty padlocks have been used, the council team cut through the locks to gain entry.
The enforcement officers then conducted a thorough check of the gutters, water containers, tubs, flush and water tanks in the house.
They did not find any mosquito larvae breeding in the five houses.
Dr Suriani said MPSJ “broke” into the houses as a last resort.
“We had to do this as dengue cases kept emerging for 22 consecutive weeks after USJ 11 was declared a dengue epidemic area,” she said.
“We tried everything – from leaving notices at the houses, enlisting the help of the residents association and neighbours - just to find some means of getting in touch with the owners.”
Dr Suriani said the council even contacted realty agents and also checked with the National Registration Department.
“Of the 87 vacant properties in USJ 11, the council managed to get in touch with owners of only 33 houses," she said.
Dr Suriani said the “break-in" was agreed upon at last week's MPSJ board meeting. The council was empowered to do so under Section 5 (5) of the Destruction of Disease Bearing Insects Act 1975 (amended 2000).
The council will replace padlocks it has broken during the operation. Owners can collect the keys from the MPSJ headquarters.
“In fact, we have begun to take owners of any property in USJ 11 found to have bred aedes mosquitoes to court," she said, adding that two have been charged since last month.
“Issuing fines does not seem to have helped eradicate the dengue menace."
Up until last week, Dr Suriani said, there were 429 confirmed dengue cases in the municipality.
“Of the number, 74 cases were in USJ 11, 37 in USJ 19 and PJS 7 (25 cases)."

# Ensure water tank in the roof has a properly placed lid.
# Ensure that the lids are not bent or have dents.
# Check base of the tanks to ensure that water does not collect there and there is an outlet for water to flow out in case of a spill.
# Should the tank be located outside, make sure that it has a roof and a drain-off outlet.
# Place abate in open water containers.
# Check gutters and ensure gradient allows water to flow out properly.

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