SINGAPORE - Rats are still running amok in Bukit Batok, invading homes, shops and even a childcare centre.
This is despite measures taken to eliminate the rodents after a major infestation reported along a slope next to Bukit Batok MRT station late last year, The New Paper reported yesterday.
In Bukit Batok Avenue 8, residents are battling the rats, some of which even breach the defences put up by residents and shopkeepers, appearing not just in dark alleys but in well-lit corridors as well.
Some residents and shopkeepers have fortified their homes and shops; building fences and setting traps while others have placed potted plants over fist-size holes in the grass patches surrounding blocks 165, 166 and 167.
A first-storey resident of Block 165 who gave her name only as Madam Devi, 62, told The New Paper: "There have been more of the rats since November. Sometimes, I see them in the day.
"From my window, I always hear their squeaks when they fight at night."
Madam Devi, who has lived there since 1984, said she occasionally replaces the acrylic board on the rear gate of her flat.
Installing the board on the inside of the gate did not stop rats from entering, so she now secures the board from outside so that the rodents cannot nudge the board or climb the gate.
Madam Devi's neighbour has also left a rat trap outside her own flat.
Madam Devi said that over the years, she has seen pest controllers cover rat burrows behind her flat.
But the rats appear bolder now, as Yvonne Ng, an incense shop retailer at Block 166, found out a few days before the Chinese New Year.
She had been fiddling with her mobile phone in her shop when she noticed something near her legs.
"I didn't notice the rat until it passed between my feet," said Ms Ng, 26.
"I jumped up from my seat and screamed. It ran into the shop and later escaped into a drain at the front of the shop."
She immediately borrowed a rat trap from a friend and placed it below some shelves in the shop, using a prayer cake for bait, but she has not caught any rat so far.
Even Appleland Montessori Childcare Centre at Block 165 has not been spared. Its principal, Jane Teo, told evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that the centre is cleaned and disinfected daily, but two rats were discovered at the centre after the Chinese New Year holiday.
The rats, which had not previously been seen at the centre, were found to have crawled into the premises through a drainage hole. The hole has since been sealed with a lid and covered with a five-litre bottle of detergent.
The centre's supervisor, June Othman, added that she spots two or three rats scurrying past the flowerpots placed outside every morning.
Meanwhile, New Paper reporters spotted "eyes peering at us from an open rubbish chute" on a visit to the estate two weekends ago.
The 15 or so rats, which seemed oblivious to the reporter's presence, scuttled between cracks and gaps leading to the back doors of shops. The rats were observed to be frequently entering a unit formerly occupied by the Giant supermarket chain at Block 166.
A 5cm gap in the rear shutter door gave the rats easy access to leftover fruit in a red plastic bag in the unit. The rodents also left hundreds of droppings inside the unit.
Jane Lee, an ERA Real Estate senior marketing director who oversees the rental unit at Block 166, said it was vacated about two months ago. While she was unaware of the rats' presence, she said a clean-up crew visited the premises last Monday.
The estate falls under the Jurong Town Council's jurisdiction.
Ng Wee Teck, a property manager for the estate, told TNP: "On and off, in the last two weeks, we've received feedback on the rats (in the estate). But it's not a serious infestation."
Mr Ng said that if there are rat sightings, the town council will send its officers to investigate.
He added: "In such situations, we advise residents to maintain proper housekeeping and not leave food sources exposed."
One man was upset after a rat "visited" the third storey corridor of his father's unit of Block 166 on Feb 21 evening.
Max Ho, 35, said: "My father doesn't live above a coffee shop or near a rubbish collection point. So how do you explain rats coming up to the upper units? Something has to be done."
The National Environment Agency discovered about 10,000 rat burrows across the island in October and November, an increase from 6,400 in the same period in 2013.