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St James rats scoff at bait, prefer doubles, fries, gyros
The growing rat infestation in St James and Port-of-Spain continues to be a worrying problem, so much so that the rodents have developed a “sweet tooth” for fries, pholourie and doubles and have ignored the bait used to kill them. This was one of many concerns for Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing at the Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting held at Parliament yesterday.
He said the corporation’s 35 public health inspectors were thinly stretched and there is a dire need for 100 more inspectors. Committee members examined an administrative report of the corporation for 2005 and 2006, a review of the administrative management of the corporation for 2008 to 2011 and a medium term strategic plan from the present to 2015.
The rat problem was brought to the fore when committee member Elton Prescott SC, asked about the best way to treat with the St James Market in terms of profitability and effectiveness. Citing the administrative report, Prescott said reference was made in 2005 that an adjacent lot next to the market be purchased to expand the market to bring in more profits.
Prescott asked what had transpired between that time and now to which Lee Sing replied from then to now the market had become a ghost town and was being used as a “political football.” He said there were six vendors, most of whom operated on a fixed clientele and on a weekend there were about ten vendors out of a capacity of 35 stalls.
“The corporation took a decision to address two concerns. We have a serious rodent problem in Port-of-Spain and much of this challenge has been brought by the fact that Port-of-Spain has more restaurants than the whole of the Caribbean region put together.” In addition to the restaurants, Lee Sing said, there were also “hundreds” vending on the pavements.
St James also had a similar problem as almost every corner. Be it night or day, there was a vendor. “That has brought on a serious rodent infestation and in St James in particular where we note the rodents are no longer attracted to the rat bait; they ignore it largely because they have a choice of pholourie, roti, doubles, jerk pork, chicken not to mention french fries,” Lee Sing said.
Due to this the corporation has to contain the sale of food, particularly on the sidewalks in St James but at the same time working with the restaurants to ensure they complied with proper health standards, Lee Sing said. He said Mooneram Street in St James was being “pedestrianised” to put a “food market” to accommodate all the vendors.
“We will also be putting in public conveniences that are absent to vending. We have also converted part of the market into a food court,” Lee Sing added. He said the cost of running the market was around $400,000 per month to cover all administrative costs.
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