x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Complaints about pests rise in Dubai

Complaints about insects and rodents are increasing in number in Dubai, but projects under way should soon streamline the response system, officials say.

Dubai // Complaints about insects and rodents are increasing in number in Dubai, but projects under way should soon streamline the response system, officials say.

More than 300,000 complaints about insects and rodents were registered by the Public Health Pest Control Section of Dubai Municipality last year. Ants topped the list, followed by rodents and cockroaches.

Hisham Abdulrahman al Yahya, the head of the section, said complaints had increased with the population.

"Complaints from Emirati families increase by more than 20 per cent annually due to the rise in families," Mr al Yahya said.

Complaints received from expatriates are redirected to private pest control companies, which are licensed and monitored by the municipality.

"Our policy is to make Dubai free of pests, but if the Government worked alone it would cost millions," Mr al Yahya said.

Almost 100 private pest control companies in the city have been trained to government standards of safety and quality, and each one is evaluated every three months.

The pest control section at Dubai Municipality is working on two initiatives to speed up response to complaints.

The first involves the initial complaint stage. At present, complaints flow into the municipality call centre, which then uploads information onto its database before passing it to the pest control section, which re-enters the data onto its own system.

But by the end of April, a new unified system should be ready to replace the old method.

The second approach is to equip all field workers with devices enabling them to upload pest information to a central database as they record it.

This Geographical Distribution of Pests in Dubai (GDPD) project, to help track trends and identify potential outbreaks, is the first such initiative in the world, officials say.

"Before, we used to go to sites, fill a sheet and manually enter data," Mr al Yahya said. But with the new system, outbreaks can be spotted and counteracted quickly.

"We are also monitoring more than 200 community developments to check for problems such as mosquitos or rats," said Motahar Hussain, a pest management specialist at the section.

"At markets, we look for German cockroaches, for example, and we check cattle for any ticks," he said.

"Dubai developed very fast and there was a rise in construction," Mr Hussain said. "Only now, people are aware of how these pests come."

Most problems are a result of poor standards in cleanliness.

"We raise awareness but education takes time and effort," Mr al Yahya said. "Each family should put responsibilities into practice."

melshoush@thenational.ae