OCHO RIOS, St Ann – The St Ann Parish Council has turned to the Ministry of Local Government for financial assistance to help address the rodent infestation now affecting several major towns in the parish.
In recent months, there have been increases in rodents of all sizes in the towns of Ocho Rios, Brown’s Town and St Ann’s Bay.
According to the council, financial constraints have severely hampered a rodent-control programme which it intended to implement in collaboration with the St Ann Health Department.
Ian Bell (PNP councillor, Beecher Town division) said several communities in his division have been badly affected by rodents and he has requested that approximately $8 million be made available to address the problem across the parish.
Bell said the local public health department of the Ministry of Health had prepared and presented a rodent-control programme of $7,853,000 to the council and he wants the money taken from the Equalisation Fund.
“We want the money to ensure the entire parish is properly cleaned because we want to reduce the rodent infestation across the parish and also, we want to reduce the spread of leptospirosis,” said Bell, who recently brought a resolution to the council requesting that funds be made available for the project.
Chief public health inspector for the parish, Karen Brown, told the Jamaica Observer North East that the full roll-out of the rodent-control programme was being hampered by a lack of funding.
“The programme has commenced, at least some of the educational aspects, but we have not got anything (funding) at all in support of this programme; not even to put up flyers or anything like that,” Brown explained.
Brown said she was hoping that the council would receive at least a portion of the money it has requested so other aspects of the programme can be implemented.
She explained that garbage disposal by both residential and commercial entities were major concerns of the health department as the improper disposal and storage of garage were the leading cause of the rodent infestation.
“We are working assiduously in ways that we can to have the problem addressed but we are cognisant of the fact that this is not just a problem of the health department, it has to be joint approach with the council to have it addressed,” she added.
At the same time, Brown said her department was also working with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA ) to see how both bodies can get commercial entities to better dispose of solid waste.
“Apart from the funding, there is a component where the regulations are important and we hope that the solid waste (NSWMA) will be able to start more enforcement,” she added.
In the meantime, Brown said the public health department continues with its public education campaign as it seeks to get more people aware of the proper ways to dispose of their waste in order to reduce the proliferation of rodents.
Several other towns including Alexandria, Discovery Bay, Claremont and a number of communities where an increase in rodents has been identified are expected to receive attention once funding is received.