Fewer rat burrows found so far: NEA

The rat situation in Singapore has improved slightly this year, according to the latest figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Some 20,000 rat burrows were detected in public areas islandwide in the first half of the year, proportionally fewer than the 43,000 found for the whole of last year, the NEA said yesterday.

And these were from a similar number of inspections conducted in the same period as last year: more than 70,000 on retail food establishments as of June.

But Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, yesterday stressed that tackling the rat menace required the help of all stakeholders, such as town councils and coffee shops.

"Everybody has a role to play... Every premises owner needs to ensure it puts in place measures to prevent rat infestation.

"The town council will also do its part to coordinate the rat control programme."

This includes regular inspections and cleaning of the estates, particularly of bin chutes, central refuse chutes and bin centres, Dr Khor told reporters on the sidelines of a visit to Bukit Batok Avenue 4, where multi-stakeholder efforts are being carried out.

For example, the Choa Chu Kang Town Council, in charge of the area, has replaced damaged plastic gully trap covers in the bin chutes with metal covers, thus preventing rats from gnawing through them and getting to the refuse.

Dr Khor yesterday also visited a coffee shop, managed by Badaling Holdings, which has a slew of anti-rat measures in place.

These include installing wire mesh on windows to prevent rats from getting in, and having an operations manager to ensure stall owners clean up well at the end of the day.

Dr Khor's visit came after rats were spotted in other parts of Bukit Batok.

In late 2014, the vermin were rampant in the hilly area near the Bukit Batok MRT station, and in April this year, in the vacant state land behind the See Thian Foh Combined Temple.

The situation improved after the authorities carried out an extensive rodent-busting operation at both sites.

"What I think is important is to educate stakeholders and get them on board to work together with us to coordinate rat-prevention programme efforts... and sustain the efforts," Dr Khor said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Fewer rat burrows found so far: NEA'. Print Edition | Subscribe