The dismantling of parts of Huannan Traditional Market in Taipei may have led to an outbreak of rats in the sewers nearby, causing residents in the area to be plagued by the rats even in the morning, Taipei City Councilor Yeng Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) said.
Heping Borough (和平里) Warden Lee Ping-chi (李彬基) said the rats had an abundant food supply in the market and were numerous, adding that the 2,700 residents in the borough had all asked for at least three packets of rat poison subsidized by the Taipei City Government.
Huajing Borough (華江里) Warden Yang Hua-chung (楊華中) said there had been a rat problem at the market for a long time and there had been worries that when construction began at the market it would send the whole horde of rats scrambling onto the streets.
The city’s Environmental Protection Bureau had not provided enough poison to get rid of the rats, as well as an outbreak of cockroaches and fleas, Yang said, adding that when the boroughs had asked for additional poison they had been told regulations prevented it.
“It is hard to believe that the government would spend so much money on rebuilding the market, but make no funds available to purchase the required poisons to exterminate the pests,” Yang said.
Taipei City Environmental Protection Bureau Second Division Section Chief Lin Chung-wei (林崇威) said the city government had distributed 1,000 packets of rat poison each to Huajiang Borough, Luti Borough (綠堤里), Heping Borough and Hede Borough (和德里), adding that if the boroughs had exhausted their supply they could apply for more.
Lin said the regulations state that only environmental protection bureaus or disease prevention companies can use drugs to exterminate cockroaches and flees, adding that the bureau had regularly applied the drugs in the affected areas.
Environmental Protection Bureau Second Division Director Yang Wei-hsiu (楊維修) said Taipei’s rat extermination rate is as high as 80 to 90 percent, adding that as the breeding rate of rats is high, as they give birth to litters of eight to 12 rats four to seven times a year, it is important to deny them a source of food, while also attempting to deny them entry to urban areas at all.
Taipei City Government Market Division Director Wang San-chung (王三中) said the government makes efforts to exterminate rats at markets during the Tomb Sweeping Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Wang said the government puts rat poison in Huannan Traditional Market every two weeks and also removes all rat corpses found, adding that the city government had asked a team of experts to monitor the population density of rats near the market.
The construction work would not continue until the population of rats has declined, Wang said.