Mozzies feasting in Portmore

ST. CATHERINE, Jamaica – Residents of Portmore, St Catherine, are growing weary of a tiny but fast-growing population.

Mosquitoes have been swarming swathes of the municipality for months, forcing residents to retreat indoors as soon as dusk approaches.

Portmore Mayor, Keith Hinds, said the municipality had spent thousands of dollars on fogging communities in recent months, but the situation had worsened. He said the main source of the problem was the National Water Commission’s 24 sewage ponds, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“The water commission has been promising and promising and promising to clean them. Even the last time when the minister of water and housing was here, a representative assured us that the contract would have been given out and the ponds would have been cleaned,” he told The Gleaner on Monday.

That was about four months ago, said Hinds.

“To date, I think they started something there and the tractors just disappeared,” he added.

The St Catherine Health Depart-ment also identified the NWC ponds as the source of Portmore’s woes.

Health Inspector Calbert Rattigan argued that vegetation overgrowth in the ponds militated against the success of fogging operations.

Massive breeding

“Because of the massive breeding that is taking place there, we are doing only enough to kill the adult population,” he said. “The solution is to have the ponds cleaned.”

The NWC, however, denied that its ponds are the main source of the mosquito swarms.

“The sewage ponds, even if they contribute to any mosquito nuisance affecting the area, are not the only, or the source, of the problem,” contended Communication Manager Charles Buchanan.

Portmore also has several canals and drains which sometimes become filled with stagnant water, making them ideal habitats for mosquitoes.

Buchanan said he would check on clean-up efforts at sewage ponds in the sprawling dormitory community, nicknamed the Sunshine City.

For now, Portmore residents can expect to continue slapping, spraying and fanning away the nuisances.

“We have been talking and talking and talking. If they (NWC) don’t clean it between now and the 31st (of January), I am planning to lead a demonstration down there to their office,” Hinds warned.