SINGAPORE- Rat sightings in housing estates here have taken a sharp dive, according to latest official data.
On average, some 4,100 rat burrows were found in Housing Board estates up till November this year, compared to 7,300 in 2011 when the National Environment Agency (NEA) first started a national programme to track rat sightings over six two-month cycles each year.
The dip has led the agency to turn its attention beyond the heartland.
Last month, it called a public tender for pest control companies to "locate and destroy" rats in 12 areas. These included Orchard Road, Geylang, Little India, Joo Chiat and Holland Village.
The agency said that it picked these areas because "the high density of food retail establishments and human traffic render them prone to rodent infestation".
Besides targeting these 12 areas, the NEA also wants to start a one-year study on rat behaviour in commercial buildings where there are food courts and supermarkets.
An NEA spokesman told The Straits Times that the "improper storage and disposal of food" is a major cause of rat infestation, and it wants to reduce the problem by emphasising "good housekeeping and refuse management".
In July this year, the NEA awarded a $4.2 million contract to curb the rat population in public areas for up to two years.
Although rat sightings in public housing estates have fallen, some town councils are not letting their guard down, according to The Straits Times' check with all 16 town councils.
The Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council hired pest control company Rentokil in October for a two-year $600,000 "rat attack" programme.