$1.8m to fight rats in St James
THE St James Health Department plans to begin a $1.8-million rat eradication programme within the next month. They have already started to solicit funds from the parish’s public and private sectors to undertake the programme.
“We are hoping that everybody will cash in on the programme,” said senior public health inspector, Desmond Clarke.
To date, Clarke said, the Gloucester Avenue Restaurant’s Association has given their commitment to supply a portion of the needed funds.
Rats are known carriers of a form of meningitis. Last year, the Ministry of Health confirmed that a group of spring-breakers had contracted the disease after eating at a restaurant along Montego Bay’s tourist strip on Gloucester Avenue. Since then, there has been increased awareness of the harmful effect the rodents can have on the island’s tourist industry.
Clarke added that over the next few days, the health department would also be soliciting funds from the Members of Parliament in the North Western and West Central St James constituencies, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
The programme, which will extend over an eight-week period, will include a survey of the affected areas and the education of persons who live and/or work in these areas.
“We have to really deal with it now before it gets out of hand,” Clarke told the Observer.
The long-standing problem of rat infestation in the city has plagued areas like West Gate Hills, Pitfour and Gloucester Avenue, along with communities along the South Gully Project.
And while the St James Parish Council has expressed support for the programme, and an interest in helping to supply a portion of the funds, the agency has said it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to secure the bulk of the funding.