Sat | Jan 25, 2020

St James to dispatch mini armies to fight rats

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The St James Public Health Department has opened up a new front in its rodent eradication campaign with the formation of small operational groups with local businesses and other stakeholders to spearhead the drive.

According to Lennox Wallace, who heads the St James Public Health Department, smaller cells will add new energy to the ongoing offensive to make a success of rat termination.

“We are getting somewhere, happily, as we had a meeting with the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and some of the larger businesses in Montego Bay,” Wallace told The Gleaner.

“You can see the progress in how the facilities are storing their garbage for pickup, and how the educational information is going into schools. I believe the situation is looking up,” he added.

The issue of rodent infestation across St James has been a long-standing thorn in the health department’s side, with improper food and garbage disposal cited as a major contributor to the breeding of the pests.

The presence of rats has affected various operations across Montego Bay, including an incident last February when police officers at the old Area One headquarters were forced out of the building because of infestation. The People’s Arcade in the western city was also targeted by the health department because of garbage pile-up in a neighbouring gully, which was said to harbour rats.

But despite the ongoing rodent-control drive, Wallace admitted that more work needs to be done in locations such as Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, more popularly known as the Hip Strip, which has harboured rats over the last five years because of garbage dumped by food vendors.

“Are we 100 per cent where we should be? Certainly not, because we have spaces like Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, where we need to do a little better, but we’re heading in the right direction,” said Wallace.

“We’ve met with the St James Municipal Corporation and some ideas will be coming up that we’ll unveil very soon, but I have no doubt that by the end of the month, we’ll see programmes coming to reduce the rodent population in Montego Bay.”

editorial@gleanerjm.com