According to the Auditor General’s Report released yesterday, the National Environment Agency has failed in its rodent surveillance and control programs for a simple reason – according to NEA documents, “the 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.”

This is despite the seriousness of the rat problem in Singapore, which has been in the news for the past two years or so. Experts have warned of a serious outbreak and public health concerns if the problem is left to fester as long as it has.

In 2014, for example, the NEA found 10,000 rat burrows around the island in just the two months of October and November.

According to the AGO, NEA had worded its contract with pest controllers ineffectively, confining their activities to areas under NEA’s purview only, and this led vendors to act only in a limited capacity and hindered all attempts to weed out the rodents once and for all.

“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.

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