Why roll back anti-mosquito policy?

In 2014, government agencies set a regulation that the condenser tray from outdoor air-conditioning units must be removed to reduce the chance of mosquitoes breeding. Most residents complied.

Recently, however, I received a HDB notice instructing me to reinstall a "HDB recommended" condenser tray from an "authorised contractor", as my neighbour downstairs had complained about being disturbed by water dripping from my air-con.

I called the contractor and was told it would cost $350 to reinstall the tray. When I asked if it was HDB approved, the contractor said yes. When I asked if the National Environment Agency had also approved it, he kept silent.

I then checked with the HDB, which confirmed that it was issuing such notices when residents complained about dripping water. But it warned that I would be fined if mosquitoes were found breeding in my tray if I did not maintain it.

Why is there a backpedalling of policy now?

Residents paid hundreds of dollars to remove the trays to comply with the national policy. Now, we are asked to pay hundreds more to put the tray back just because of some complaints that the dripping water is noisy.

It is shocking that the HDB expects residents to ensure the condenser trays are mosquito-free.

In high-rise flats, it is dangerous just to peer out the windows to check on the trays.

Maintenance can be done quarterly, but that does not prevent mosquitoes from breeding, as eggs can hatch in less than a day. Given the frequency of rain in Singapore, it is not just condenser water that residents need to worry about flooding the tray.

It is wiser to deal with a virus that can kill us than to be bothered by the noise caused by a dripping condenser.

Simply securing a rubber mat or cloth on the top of an air-con unit would absorb the dripping water and noise, while preventing mosquito breeding.

Yip Wai Hon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Why roll back anti-mosquito policy?'. Print Edition | Subscribe