By Tan Cheng Bock
I have written on this subject before but recent rat colonies found near Bukit Batok MRT Station prompted me to revisit this issue.The photo below of rats caught by pest control unit so close to Bukit Batok MRT station is a warning sign of more things to come if we do not take measures to control food disposal.With so many food establishments so close to the station as shown in the 2nd photo there will come a day when these rats will be found hiding and nesting within our underground stations.
When l was studying the London Underground before we started building our MRT we were advised not have food on trains and that, there should be a buffer zone between food shops and the MRT stations.The no food and eating rule in the trains was instituted and no food shops were allowed close to the stations.
However overtime, policy changed and l can see food shops even close to the entrance to the stations. Bukit Batok is one example where food shops are very close to the stations.
Rats thrive on food waste so they tend to nest close to these outlets.They bred fast and grind their teeth on firm materials including our underground cables leading to short circuits and train disruptions in future.
There are so many ways to manage this.The most important is to deprive them food.Thus we citizens must understand this and and discard food waste properly at home and at food establishments including hawker centres and markets...Also feeding of stray animals must be responsibly done by picking up any left overs and nothing is left behind for the rats to feed on..Policy on how far the buffer zone between food shops and stations must be reviewed.
It is a question of nipping the problem early or suffer the consequences of rat illness like leptospirosis and potential train disruptions in future.
This post first appeared on Former Member of Parliament and Presidential Candidate 2011, Dr. Tan Cheng Bock's facebook account