Litterbugs deserve swat team's first blow

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 12:00am

HOW INTERESTING TO note that three construction companies have been fined for allowing mosquitoes to breed on their construction sites after an inspection of 1,630 sites and 113 prosecutions.

The security guard on the construction site one block over from my home in Repulse Bay has certainly had the wind put up him on this one. It took no more than my bending over a puddle to look for larvae and he came scrambling out to assure me that every drop of standing water there is sprayed at least twice a week.

How nice to know. A few paces further along is a rusty chain link fence with touches of barbed wire, separating the site from a patch of the usual public scrubland and some day I should really count the number of empty soft drink cans and styrofoam lunch boxes flipped over that fence. I am sure the resulting tally would be almost as high as the Japanese national debt.

And have I ever seen any sign that mosquito inspectors have tried to inspect on the other side of the fence?

No, it is not part of the construction site, you see. Well, I shall not pin the blame on the construction workers alone. They have added to it but most of that litter has been there longer than they have. So have the mosquitoes.

Now I grant you, boss, that you may think this is not a piece of financial or economic commentary, but you are wrong. Just look. I have a chart along with it and charts, as you know, are a good way of being economical with the truth.

Not enough? Very well, I shall give you another business angle. The mosquitoes have been so bad around our place recently that we cannot even sit in our living room in the evening unless the windows have been closed all day with the air-conditioning on and it is getting too late in the year for that.

Half an hour of slapping ourselves every 10 seconds while trying to watch TV and my wife and I decide to make it an early night under the mosquito netting we have draped over our bed. With first light in the morning, she is up again slapping away at the few that have made it through anyway.

The result is a good night's sleep and an early start for the day, which suggests, if my experience is a general one, that this new Mosquito Index the government has promised us may be a perfect proxy for the worker productivity index. There, that's a business angle and you are getting no more.

Let us just hope that the mosquito inspectors do not lose track of any of these 'ovitrap' water-filled devices on which they will base their larvae count for the Mosquito Index. I am not one for destroying government property but if the larvae in any one of them near my home start looking a bit too big and active I shall deal with it by boot. Squash before you count is my motto in these matters.

And as to this 'multi-pronged' approach to battle mosquitoes and dengue fever, I suggest emulating the mosquito itself with special concentration on a single prong. We have a new law to fine people HK$600 a pop for littering. Nothing breeds mosquitoes quite like an empty soft drink can with a little rainwater and some leaf litter. It can produce hundreds of them season after season.

A clean-up of unused land matched with some well-publicised HK$600 stingers for people who ignore rubbish bins will do a good deal more than the Mosquito Index. Could we start around my home, please?

Graphic: jake12gbz