On the hunt with Jak­ar­ta’s ro­dent era­di­ca­ti­on mo­ve­ment

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

JAK­AR­TA - Wel­co­me to the Rat Era­di­ca­ti­on Mo­ve­ment, a fled­gling ci­ty pro­gram to rid the In­do­ne­si­an ca­pi­tal of its ro­dent pro­blem. It’s the idea of de­pu­ty gover­nor Dja­rot Sai­ful Hi­day­at, who has of­fe­red the pu­blic a boun­ty of 20,000 ru­piahs (£1.20) for each li­ve rat – a ge­nerous in­cen­ti­ve in a coun­try whe­re 40% of the po­pu­la­ti­on li­ve on less than $2 a day.

Col­lec­ting the rats ali­ve stops pe­o­p­le clai­ming re­wards for dead ro­dents found in the street, and al­lows of­fi­ci­als to en­su­re no­ne ha­ve been poi­so­ned or shot, which they fear could be dange­rous to the pu­blic. Jak­ar­ta re­cor­ded 40 ca­ses last year of Lep­to­spi­ro­sis – a bac­te­ri­al in­fec­ti­on from rat uri­ne which can be dead­ly to hu­mans – with the si­tu­a­ti­on ma­de wor­se by the ci­ty’s fre­quent floods. Whi­le ro­dent po­pu­la­ti­ons are hig­hest near mar­kets and their rea­dy sup­ply of was­te food, they can be seen al­most any­whe­re in the ci­ty. Rats ha­ve been spot­ted in cour­t­hou­ses and govern­ment of­fi­ces, ex­clu­si­ve apart­ment blocks and ex­pen­si­ve res­tau­rants. Wan­der the streets at 3am and rats can be seen scur­rying in and out of drains. They don’t seem too sca­red of pe­o­p­le. The rats gnaw through plas­tic drai­na­ge pi­pes and elec­tri­cal wi­res. It is both a fire ha­zard and an ex­pen­si­ve pro­blem to fix as a bro­ken pi­pe or che­wed through wi­re could be any­whe­re – out­si­de, in­si­de or un­der – that a rat can get. Fun­ding for the pro­gram cur­rent­ly co­mes from Dja­rot’s own bud­get, and full ope­ra­ti­on will not start un­til af­ter ci­ty elec­ti­ons in Fe­bru­a­ry. He is stan­ding on a tic­ket with Jak­ar­ta gover­nor Ba­su­ki ‘Ahok’ Tja­ha­ja Pur­na­ma, who was last week na­med as a sus­pect in a blasp­he­my in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on.

A si­mi­lar pi­lot eve­ning two weeks ago in the sub-dis­trict of Ke­may­o­ran yiel­ded 200 li­ve rats. Dja­rot, who was the­re to su­per­vi­se the ope­ra­ti­on and dis­tri­bu­te mo­ney to the moon­ligh­ting clea­ners and ojek mo­tor­cy­cle-taxi dri­vers who cau­ght the rats, said the ci­ty’s ro­dent po­pu­la­ti­on had un­til now been “un­con­trol­la­ble”. Ojek dri­ver Su­tikno ear­ned 100,000 ru­piah af­ter cat­ching fi­ve rats with fis­hing nets and traps. “It’s good mo­ney. I’ll do it again,” he said. So­me, though, wor­ry the pro­gram could back­fire in a phe­no­me­non eco­no­mists call the Co­bra Ef­fect, whe­re cash re­wards lead to un­in­ten­ded con­se­quen­ces.


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