Filthy canal poses threat to Halls Road residents
As an expectant mother, Vanessa Pilgrim of Bibby Gap, Halls Road, St Michael cannot help but worry about the threat of the Zika virus.
She knows that the Ministry of Health has confirmed that three pregnant women here have contracted Zika and she is aware of the reports of the yet unproven link to microcephaly.
Pilgrim does not want to be counted among the statistics, so she and her family do everything possible to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the virus.
However, despite their best efforts to keep their surroundings clean, danger lurks in the form of a filthy canal congested with overgrown grass, foul water, garbage and an unpleasant ordour.
Residents see it as a perfect breeding site for the mosquito.
“I sleep under a net. I burn mosquito coils. I use repellent. I put on long pants. I even go inside early to run from the mosquitoes. Sometimes I even go up by my boyfriend to get way from that canal,” the pregnant woman told Barbados TODAY.
“The first time I use the net it caught more than 30 mosquitoes. I am not just concerned about me, but I worry about other people that getting babies too.”
She keeps proof of the mosquito invasion nearby and today she showed Barbados TODAY several dead mosquitoes that she has stored in a small bag.
For shopkeeper John Eversley, the constant attacks by the pests are a “nightmare” and he invited anyone who is interested to experience what he deals with daily.
Eversley described swarms of mosquitoes rising from the canal from around 6 p.m. every evening and leading a relentless attack on residents who are forced to rush to shut their windows and doors.
“Everybody complaining about these mosquitoes. A certain time of the night people don’t want to come out dem house to come to the shop because dem frighten [of] the mosquitoes,” Eversley said.
The story is the same for Leroy Murrell who said he grew up in the area.
Murrell said had never seen the canal in such an “ugly” state and pleaded with the authorities to do something about it before Zika overruns the community.
“It is a very ugly site. They need to do something about this though because just now a lot of people will end up with this Zika thing.
“The ministers talking about keeping your surroundings clean, but look at in there. Got the people out here in bare trouble. When 5:30 come the mosquitoes start to run me home,” Murrell said.
One businessman whose outlet is situated directly in front of the canal joined the call for regular upkeep, while another entrepreneur said it was virtually impossible to extend his business hours past 6 p.m.
“Some guys went to work recently and they had to stop before dem even start good because they don’t want to go through that nasty water.
“In there is a swamp and no Collins can’t cut down dem tall trees in there. Dem gine got to use a power saw,” the entrepreneur, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
One resident suggested that environmental officials needed to devise a plan to stop the water from settling in the canal.
Otherwise, the resident said, the consequences could be costly.
“Once that stagnant water is not there you will not see all of them mosquitoes in there. Out here is a place that got little children and people and we can’t afford to have our people sick.”