Sat | Mar 17, 2018

Rat bat fumes take over justice ministry

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Mark Golding

While the Ministry of Justice has long-term plans to relocate permanently to Hagley Park Road, a bat infestation at its current offices at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) South Tower may force a relocation sooner than later.

Employees at the ministry have been complaining of noxious odours, which have been emanating from a shaft in which the bats are believed to roost.

Some employees have had to be wearing masks to work due to the poor air quality caused by the infestation.

"There is a ventilation shaft that goes from the roof of the building, all the way down to the base of the building. It's an enclosed shaft," Minister of Justice Mark Golding told The Gleaner.

"I think what has happened is that bats seem to have gone in there, over time, and their manure is problematic because it emits a fume that is not healthy, and those fumes are somehow seeping out into the offices, so the air quality is less than it should be," Golding added.

Employees affected

Last year, three employees of the ministry had to seek medical attention due to ventilation problems, which resulted in a shutdown of the ministry.

Meanwhile, property managers of the NCB Towers, AIC Jamaica Limited, have declined to speak with the media regarding the infestation.

The minister of justice expressed concern about the ability of AIC to effectively address the bat infestation and confirmed that the ministry was considering options for relocation, ahead of a move to the property at Hagley Park Road, which is under renovation.

"We have been dealing with this for some time. Our landlords, who are AIC Jamaica Limited, are fully aware of the problem. They have tried a few measures to fix it, over time, but they have not been able to fix it, so far, and what has happened is that one of the floors has been affected more than the others, and it has gotten worse, generally. So we have been putting up with it. It's a discomfort, and we have been putting up with it for a year or more at least," he told The Gleaner.

"It is not easy to find space that we need, but we are now looking because, although there are plans to permanently move to 2 Hagley Park Road, that is a renovation of a derelict building, and that is going to take some time, so we have to find an interim solution," the minister added.