The rat infestation problem in Singapore, which has been in the news in recent years, seems to have reared its ugly head once again – this time in Ang Mo Kio, especially, which has been plagued by the problem the last few years.
In its latest issue of the town council’s newsletter, the Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) revealed that in the two months from February this year, 211 rat burrows were detected and treated, and 91 carcasses were disposed of.
“Where possible, the Town Council tries to keep estates rodent-free through the sealing of cracks or holes in floors, walls, ceilings, partitions and doors, and the use of rodent proofing covers,” it said.
In January, a woman who was dining at a hawker centre in the Teck Ghee ward of the constituency spotted rats and cockroaches scurrying away even as she was having her meal.
“I was eating for about 10 minutes at Teck Ghee Court Market & Food Centre and saw four humongous rats running around me and some cockroaches as companions,” she told the media.
The town council said then that it had informed the National Environment Agency (NEA) of the incident, and urged stall owners to take adequate action to ensure proper waste disposal to keep the rats away.
But the rat problem in Ang Mo Kio seems to be a recurring one the last few years.
In 2013, a resident posted on the Hardware Zone forum photos of rats he had taken in the neighbourhood.
“I don’t purposely go and catch the rats, but they were making [so] much noise that all I did was to point my camera and just snap,” he said.
In 2012, rats were also found in two food outlets in Ang Mo Kio Mall.
The NEA said that following public feedback, it had found signs of rat activities in Dian Xiao Er Restaurant and MOF restaurant in the mall.
The mall’s pest control records showed that four rats were caught in November 2012, and that six rat burrows were also found near the mall.
And in 2011, then-resident of the Yio Chu Kang ward, Ravi Philemon, was so incensed by the problem in his area that he wrote to his Member of Parliament, Seng Han Thong.
“The problems I have highlighted in the past, have come back again,” Mr Philemon wrote. “The rat infestation has grown worse and the recent heavy downpour has flushed out the rats from their burrows and their menace is unbearable. They are huge and are not even afraid of humans.”
Rat infestations have been in the spotlight in recent years, particularly in Bukit Batok where hundreds of rats were spotted near the MRT station there.
And just three weeks ago, a primary school in Choa Chu Kang instructed its teachers to be on the lookout after a suspected infestation of rats was discovered in its staff room.
The Straits Times reported that “the infestation has been going on for several months, with rat droppings and urine found on tables and in corners of the staff room.”
The school had to bring in pest controllers to look into the problem.
The rat infestation situation around Singapore was deemed to be so serious that experts were cautioning in January that diseases could break out if the trend continued.
The NEA alone received 4,106 complaints about rats in 2014, about 35 per cent more than the 3,031 complaints in 2013.
This “apparent explosion in the rat population” in Singapore is a potential threat to public health, as it can “lead to diseases spreading and even fires in older buildings if the rodents gnaw on power cables.”
“If the wires are exposed, people may be electrocuted by live wires during maintenance work, the electricity supply may become unstable and household appliances could catch fire,” Star Pest Control’s general manager, Bernard Chan, said.
According to the Straits Times, the NEA said “close to 90 per cent of the burrows in its October- November inspection were in housing estates.”
“We are concerned about the increase in the number of burrows detected,” said a NEA spokesman then.