No return of menace at Marina Square

The Hotpot Culture outlet in Marina Square has reopened, and eateries there have put the rat incident behind them.
The Hotpot Culture outlet in Marina Square has reopened, and eateries there have put the rat incident behind them.ST FILE PHOTO

When a dead rat was found in a vegetable dish at Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture in Marina Square, it crippled business at other eateries in the mall.

Now, almost 18 months on from when pictures of the rodent's carcass circulated online, the restaurant has reopened and others that survived the downturn in customers there have put the incident behind them. Many told The Sunday Times that they have regular pest-control measures in place and have not seen a return of the rat menace.

The Hotpot Culture incident triggered thorough inspections by the National Environment Agency (NEA), which later found signs of rodents in the false ceilings of 14 food outlets at Marina Square, and at one of the mall's bin centres. At least five eateries at the mall closed down in the aftermath of the incident, owing to a lack of customers.

The Sunday Times visited the mall during lunch time last Friday and found business to be slow in several eateries. However, Chic-a- Boo Fried Chicken manager Alex Yong said this was because customers mainly visit in the evenings and on weekends. He added that the mall may be quieter than usual lately because of renovations.

Monthly checks are conducted at the food outlet and it is required to submit pest-control reports for monitoring to the mall management.

Similarly, Chinese eatery Yechun Xiao Jiang Nan's manager, Mr Daniel Choo, said: "The pest-control workers inspect our kitchen and storage areas twice a month."

Cleaner Mohd Zubir, 58, who has worked at the mall for about two years, said traps are placed in different parts of the mall and checked twice daily.

"I don't see rats any more," he said. "When there are food stains on the floor, we always clean it up quickly."

These efforts have not gone unnoticed by visitors to the mall.

Mr Benson Sun, 44, who works in sales, said: "I'll be happy to eat anywhere in the mall. I don't see the rats anywhere so I'm not worried." Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'No return of menace at Marina Square'. Print Edition | Subscribe