Once every year, this tiny island city is blanketed by the thick clouds of haze courtesy of massive deforestation (via burning) in Sumatra. The south-western winds & dry season carries the bulk of the ash filled air up north towards Singapore, Malaysia and sometimes even as far as Borneo & Philippines.
Year on year, this annual ritual does not mellow but grows rampant. The climate change patterns do not send sufficient rainfall to douse the inferno, and with poor risk managements, it has been proven before & again, that the fires spread further and wider than the fire starters had intended.
The limitations of the local resources & fire brigades cannot prevent how & where nature fans the fires towards.
This year, an all new record high Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) registered at 393 (dated 19 June 2013) according to the environment agency, although, it seems far worse on the ground.
* Conspiracy theorists speculate that the broadcasted PSI readings are somewhat moderated to minimize alarm for the republic.
Simply glossing through the social media, i.e.: facebook, twitter etc, people are uploading & sharing the fogged out images of their vicinity to question the accuracy of the broadcasted PSI readings.
We hear on national radio, the strong encouragements by radio personalities for public to consider the use of the N95 (anti contaminant) masks. Sad to say, we witness the selling out of surgical masks/ face buff in pharmacists & department stores in an instance. The spiked readings have seen many taken ill due to congested breathing, sinus related discomforts and eye irritation.
Meanwhile, on the mainstream news, we also witness that the relevant ministries and ministers project a passive light of what they can do, or at least, is the best that they can in the given circumstance.
Well, in all my years of growing up on this island, having been visited by the annual haze, this year saw the highest PSI reading (fluctuating between unhealthy to hazardous levels) in more than a decade.
I’m not taking my chances, I’m forgoing the N95 masks, and I’m moving on to a proper full face anti contaminant mask. Considering its going to be an annual national crisis, I’d rather be prepared than to be caught “gabra”.
I’m not attempting to make a political swipe in the given situation, but I believe there is cause for the government to improve on the necessary actions to educate & equip the republic, on the necessary preventive measures to protect themselves when such crisis take place.
Often times, the education campaigns come too late and are often seen as playing catch-up. If much emphasis it placed on national defense, educating & equipping the people with such protection is not too much to ask for.