The Auditor General’s Report, released on Wednesday, has found failures in the National Environment Agency’s management of its rodent surveillance and control programme.
The rat problem in Singapore has been in the news the past two years or so, and experts have warned of a serious outbreak if the problem is not nipped in the bud.
In 2014, for example, the NEA found 10,000 rat burrows around the island in just the two months of October and November.
The AGO has found that one of the reasons which may have contributed to this is the way the NEA had worded its contract with pest controllers.
“According to NEA,” the AGO report said, “its contractor, in carrying out routine surveillance on rodent situations in public areas was only required to treat burrows in areas under NEA’s purview and not those under the purview of other public agencies.”
“As a result, some burrows were left untreated and the number of burrows in several locations had increased over time,” the AGO said.
It also added that the NEA’s surveillance and control programme as currently structured could result in higher overall cost of treating the rodent problems.
The contract awarded to its contractor was worth a total of S$4.19 million over two years.
From its review of the monthly NEA reports on rodent control services for the period between September 2013 to January 2014, the AGO found that “the contractor did not treat 115 active burrows detected in areas under the purview of other public agencies.”
The AGO found that:
– 16 rat burrows in nine locations had remained active two to four months after the burrows were detected;
– 17 burrows in seven locations had increased to 32 burrows in a span of two to six months after the burrows were first detected.
The NEA, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), explained to the AGO that it had intended for the contractor to only treat areas under its purview and had conveyed this to potential contractors at its tender briefing.
The NEA also said it would inform the relevant public agencies of the active burrows detected by its contractor in areas under their purview.
However, at the time of the release of the AGO report, the AGO observed that the NEA had still not actively followed up with these public agencies on actions taken to treat the active burrows detected.
The NEA said that “it would strengthen the co-ordination with stakeholders” to ensure that the rodent infestation problem continues to be “tackled effectively.”