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By Peter Binose

Kingstown is still the “City of Rats”. Forget the arches, because unless they fall on you, they will cause you no harm. Schools and public building are still infested with rats, years after the half-hearted attempt a few years ago to bring the dire rodent infestation under control.

Open drains and roadside sewers in Kingstown still ensure the city of more than its fare share of rats. They can be seen night and day scurrying about, eating kitchen waste discharged by all the town’s restaurants, eateries and bars. Discharges into the open roadside drain system ensure that the rats are well fed.

The vegetable, fish and meat markets are alive with rats during the night, urinating and defecating on unprotected foodstuffs and food preparation surfaces.

Rats running all over the vegetables and fruit in the city’s vegetable market. Stallholder sort their produce early to remove produce with visible rat gnaw marks, before the buyers arrive. In the meat and fish markets, rats run all over preparation surfaces, depositing disease for the unwary customers later that day.

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Supermarket staff inspects produce and breakfast cereal boxes for evidence of gnaw marks by rats, before opening the doors to customers.

Here are a few disease’s carried by rodents

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

  • Agent: Virus
  • Where the disease occurs: Throughout most of North, South America and the Caribbean
  • How the disease spreads: Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings, Direct contact with rodents or their urine and droppings, Bite wounds, although this does not happen frequently 


Spread by Rodents and other animals once infected
Agent: Bacteria
Where the disease occurs:

How the disease spreads:
Eating food or drinking water contaminated with urine from infected animals
Eating food prepared on surface that rats have contaminated
Touching school desk tops that rats have contaminated
Drinking from bottles where the tops have been contaminated by rats
Swimming in water that infected rats or animals swim in
Drinking water that his been contaminated by rats
Or just touching any surface at all, or any food product that has been rat contaminated
Contact through the skin or mucous membranes (such as inside the nose, touching a surface then touching or picking your nose.] with water or soil that is contaminated with the urine from infected rats or other contaminated domestic or wild animals

Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
Agent: Virus
Where the disease occurs: Worldwide
How the disease spreads:
Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings
Direct contact with rodents or their urine and droppings
Bite wounds, although this does not happen frequently


Agent: Bacteria
Where the disease occurs:
Western US, South America, Caribbean, Africa, Asia
How the disease spreads:
Bite of an infected flea
Direct contact with infected animal

Rat-Bite Fever
Agent: Bacteria
Where the disease occurs:
Worldwide; Streptobacillus moniliformis in North America, and Europe; Spirillum minue in Asia and Africa. Also found in South America and the Caribbean.
How the disease spreads:
Bite or scratch wound from an infected rodent, or contact with a dead rodent
Eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated by rat faeces.

South American Arenaviruses

  • (Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Sabiá-associated hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever) (predominantly an ALBA disease) Agent: Virus
  • Where the disease occurs: South America, parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Caribbean.
  • How the disease spreads:
  • Breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings
  • Direct contact with rodents or their urine and droppings
  • Bite wounds, although this does not happen frequently
  • The disease may rarely spread through direct contact from person to person


  • Agent:
  • Bacteria
  • Where the disease occurs:
  • Worldwide
  • How the disease spreads:
  • Handling infected rat and infected animal carcasses
  • Being bitten by an infected tick, or other insect
  • Eating or drinking rodent contaminated food or water
  • Breathing in the bacteria, F. tularensis
  • Rats, linked with the cities sewage disposal problems, make Kingstown one of the most dangerous places in the Caribbean.

The discharge of raw sewage into the sea can create a health hazard. Sewage can also lead to water oxygen depletion and can be an obvious visual pollution in coastal areas — a major problem for SVG’s tourist industry. Raw sewage being discharged carries disease-causing pathogens, infectious bacteria and viruses that cause exposed swimmers to suffer from sore throats, diarrhoea as well as sinus and skin infections.

Contaminated water gives ear and vaginal infections to swimmers and bathers. Raw sewage destroys the reefs and contaminates the fish life, which is part of the human food chain. Eating shell fish and lobsters from the area is a particularly and potentially dangerous thing to do.

The possibility of a very, very serious outbreak of life threatening diseases is more than a possibility.

Sewage should be pumped to treatment plants, of which there are none serving Kingstown. Raw sewage isn’t pumped into the sea at Kingstown, its more simple than that, it simply gravity feeds into the bay, into the harbour, by way of a series of cast iron pipes.

Do the cruise lines know how we dispose of the Kingstown sewage? Do they know we are the ‘City of Rats’? Do they know of the risk to their passengers?

22 replies on “Kingstown, city of rats and raw sewage (Opinion)”

  1. I did a post graduate thesis entitled ” A RETROSPECTIVE STUDY OF THE CLIMATOLOGICAL INFLUENCE ON THE EPIDEMIOLOGY OF HUMAN LEPTOSPIROSIS IN SVG 2001-2011″. The results from such a study indicate that the rainfall in svg influence significantly in the number of cases of leptospirosis in Human. The high population of rats in our country along with the perfect climatologic condition ( Rainfall , Humedity and temperature) are the major factors for the survival of the bacteria while in the environment and so increases the chances of contamination of our food, rivers and waters in recreational areas. I have written extensively on this issue in the midweek search light news paper. WE NEED TO CONTROL OUR RAT POPULATION BY MAKING SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO OUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL ACTIVITIES AND THE WAY WE TREAT OUR KITCHEN WASTE.

    The principal reasons for the over-population of rats in svg is due to the amount of food we make available to them on a daily basis and the climatic conditions. Rats only frequent areas where they are granted a free meal. If we were to significantly reduce the amount of food that are made available to these rodents, we will definitely notice a decrease in their population. In other word we need to starve these rats and by so doing they will leave in search of food in another location.
    I am sure that more than 98% of our food waste that are generated in our kitchens and commercial eventrually end up in our drains and alongside our houses and places of business. Look around our country, most of our garbage bins are left uncovered at nights, the disposal of food particles in plastic bags, farmers sometimes dispose crop remains along the drains, we feed our dogs with excessive amount of food late in the afternoon and so food are left unconsumed until the following day, we drop food particles along our journey while driving or walking, we store food in inadequate places (On the sink, porch and even on top of the dog house), we donot properly clean our animal farm holding areas and so on. All the above mention actions play a vital role in the overpopulation of rats not only in kingstown but throughtout the entire country. THIS ISSUE MUST NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED FOR IT MUST BE LOOK AT AS A POTENTIAL DISASTER TO OUR EXISTENCE. LEPTOSPIROSIS IS THE PRINCIPAL DISEASE TRANSMITTED FROM RATS TO HUMAN. BE ALERT FOR THE UPCOMING RAINY SEASON MAY RESULTS IN AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF POSSIBLE CASES OF THE DISEASE IN HUMAN.

  3. ERIC, thank you for your observations. The problem in Kingstown is that caterers have no way of disposing of their waste water which is full of food debris, other than allowing it to flow by pipe to the street drains, which are little more than open sewers.

    If you go anywhere near the drains that are adjacent to Kentucky down town, you will see enormous amounts of food debris and grease, it then flows under the road and comes up in the open drain by the Salvation Army centre.

    Kentucky are not the only ones, all the caterers are doing the same thing, there is no other mode of disposal.

    Eric you will also know that Lepto can be passed from rats to dogs and cats, then on to humans via that route. The other problem is that if you poison the rats and they are caught by dogs or cats, you poison them also.

    Lepto can be passed by rats to cattle and sheep also.

    The rats should be trapped by a team of professional night time trappers and catchers. Working whilst there is no public or visitors to observe them.

    This government is broke and they are neglecting all sorts of social and commercial matters that are of the utmost importance. Nothing of course can be more important than the health of our citizens.

    I know that there have lepto cases in SVG, and people have died because of wrong diagnosis.

    In a town the size Kingstown there should be at least three teams of 2 or 3 men, working from midnight until 5 am, 5 days a week, using pick up trucks and distributing baited wire cage traps, put them out at night, take them up early in the morning. Not a few traps, hundreds, even a thousand, every night.

    All the schools and the hospital are infected.

    The drains a sewers must be the responsibility of central government, because of the size of the problem. The drains and sewers and a proper sewage disposal plant are about a 100 years overdue. I am sure that there is a EU fund of some kind that we can tap into to fund such a project. I doubt very much we would get anything from ALBA, unless we take another loan from them, also most all of the ALBA members have the same problem.

    One of the current problems is that we have a government that is broke and under-funding all necessary services. Roads falling apart, public building falling apart, abandonment of projects such as rat catching on a large scale.

    They have lost track of the importance of these types of matters, and that filters down to the workers, if the government doesn’t care why should we, kind of attitude.

    We currently have a government whose only worry at this time is staying in power, not social matters.

    We have lost the banana industry because of their failure to fund disease eradication and control. If we have a serious outbreak of disease in humans in SVG, it will shut down every parts of the tourist industry that we now have, we will be out of business for years.

    1. Peter I just saw your reply and find it very impressive. I looked at Tokyo and saw the same situation you mentioned at Kentucky. That’s why I call for more garbage bins to help eradicate the problem. If only there was money, they could have had cleaners ensuring the drains are kept clean 24/7. They can use rat poison on Friday night and hope the stench will disappear by Monday morning. I know using poison is a drastic approach, but this is a drastic situation.

  4. Parents of children attending the Anglican school on Bay Street in Kingstown, should take a walk in the vicinity and check the stench coming from something and somewhere in the school area. Children are definitely at risk. There is no way kids should be expose to such unhealthy environment.
    Most of the ministers don’t know what’s happening in their ministries, or they don’t care, since they cannot do anything on their own, unless MASSA (King Ralph says so). Ask any of them why they entered the political arena and they can’t answer that either. Probably too much money is put into building the airport that nothing is left to clean up the shit around Kingstown and other areas.
    The meat market area should be closed down and rebuild. It is scary travelling between the little huts to buy meat. People are probably selling drugs there, but I saw more gambling tables than drug dealers. Of course I don’t know he drug dealers, but I saw the gamblers and wondered why the police don’t close them down. There are too many things that are not being taken care of in SVG.
    SVG really need a change of government.

  5. I think we need to be careful of the way we describe the environmental Health situation in SVG, more specifically Kingstown. Yes there are rats and indiscriminate disposal of sewage, once an amount is seen in a location we generalize the situation. All the comments seems to refer to one location. If we see one rat it does not suggest that the entire city has rats, it may be just in that location because rats are territorial. To solve the problem will require the private sector involvement.

  6. Reynold: One cannot be careful in situations where people’s health is concerned. How long has this situation existed? Did the authorities know about it? What was done or what plan do they have to addressed the situation?
    Look man, it doesn’t matter where rats are found. The issue is that, they are dangerous to the environment and to people’s health and no excuse should be made to get rid of them. One cannot wait until there is a breakout of some disease to address the situation. The banana issue is a typical example of what happens when immediate action is delayed.

  7. Once again I am calling on Clayton “Why should I be concerned?” Burgin, to address this impending health crisis. I am not sure to what extent is the issue of rats a real problem…I can only assume, there must be ample concern where there is an infestation….but its clear that there is a problem of sanitation in SVG. And yes it would take the involvement of the Private sector and the Government to tackle this issue and also the ongoing education of the public about waste disposal.

  8. REYNOLD HEWITT, I have not written this comment for malice or spite, or any of the other things the ULP do.

    I wrote what I wrote because it is true and I have the knowledge of it being true. Remember if you see one rat, by rule of thumb, there are 20 more hidden or nesting within 50 feet.

    There is the need to do something now, immediately. We cannot just close our eyes and leave it, that is what happened to our bananas and banking sector. All destroyed by the Minister of finance failing properly fund the situations.

    That is what is happening to our yachting tourism, 37 boats broken into during the last 2 weeks. We are the talk of the yachting world again, as far as tourism is concerned this time it could well be “good night nurse”.

  9. REYNOLD, private sector, who will pay them, the government pays no one. They owe $40 million to the private sector already, no one will give them credit, they have to pay cash.

    Let there be no doubt, Kingstown is a medical catastrophe waiting to happen, between the sewage and rats, and a government that is broke, we are well and truly in the crap.

    Most country homes in SVG have cats to keep the rodents under control, and farmers simply poison them.

    I have a cat called ‘Black Minge’, she catch’s a rat a day and some times two, and I live 9 miles from Kingstown at weekends, and in Kingstown during the week.

  10. Reynold has a point: The private sector can play a part in the clean up. Here is a simple idea that can be implemented at Tokyo and probably around the island.
    Vendors should have garbage bins close to their business outlets. This is especially true for those who sell food and drinks. At the end of the day the vendors should empty their bins into a much larger bin that should be taken away later that night. This would definitely ensure no food is around for the rats.
    Vendors must also be responsible for the cleanliness of the area around their businesses. They would surely keep a lookout for those, who’d try to litter the area. The sanitary department should ensure the vendors and business adhere to the rules, or they should have the power to issue tickets – just like in the case of illegally parked cars.
    Then there is the issue of proper washrooms. License should be denied to any business that serves food and drinks, if there are no proper his/her washrooms. The government washrooms should be monitored regularly to ensure they are kept clean. I’ve had to visit several in Kingstown and found no garbage bins and water all over the floors.
    I visited Cuba a few years ago and was warned by a previous visitor to walk with toilet paper. There was a fee to enter some washrooms and one had to buy toilet paper from people sitting outside the washrooms. In the restaurants (at least the one I visited) you didn’t have that problem, and I am not sure if it was the same situation throughout the entire island.
    Even at Victoria Park I had to give one vendor my garbage, because I couldn’t find a bin. This brings me to the realization that many more bin, placed in specific locations, can go a long way in keeping Kingstown and other towns free of street garbage.
    Yes the private sector and the citizens have a major part to play in keeping the environment clean, but they need leaders with vision who can lead the way. That is probably what’s lacking in all of SVG.
    The environmental charge on our water bill can be used to help keep the environment clean. Well isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?

  11. It is factual that the best methods to significantly reduce the population of rats are: Reduction of food availability and the use of rodenticide (Rat poison). There is a particuar rat poison called BIORAT.This poison acts by causing internal haemorrage in the rats after being consumed due to the fact that they would have used a particular strain of Salmonella (Bacteria) which only affect the rats and no other animal.
    Peter, this issue regarding the overpopulation of rats in the country must be looked at seriously and urgent measures must be implemented by the authorities and by us as citizen. This is a serious public health issue. Base on my research on the leptospirosis in human in svg, we have had more than 230 confirmed cases of the disease (Leptospirosis) during the period 2001-2010 and more than 13 deaths.
    Peter, my research on the issue indicate that the problem is all over the country. LETS DO SOME THING ABOUT IT. WE NEED TO START WITH AN OPEN FORUM IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

  12. ERIC AUDAIN, I wish I was free to assist you in such a project, but they are searching for me for writing about such matters, even my life could be at risk.

    I am told by a ULP top member there is currently a large reward being offered for exposing PETER..

    You must understand the spite and malice that is being distributed in SVG against anyone that exposes the short comings of these people.

    They are in their death throws politically and are very dangerous.

  13. Eric, I am with you on this issue. Back to basics (get school children involved). We once taught some basic hygienic courses in the primary school. There is no reason why this cannot be introduced again.
    It really needs a forum where the ministry of health, education, agriculture, finance and other interested parties can meet to discuss this pending tsunami.
    The question is who will bell the cat? Who can put such a group together? The trouble in SVG is that no-body moves unless the ok comes from Ralph. So who will take this issue to Ralph and have him sign off on it. I think any one of the ministries can take the bull by the horn to address the issue. they don’t need Ralph’s permission to do something positive for all the people (NDP and ULP) in SVG.
    I found during my short vacation in SVG, that government workers including ministers, are afraid to take the initiative on serious issues, because they are afraid the comrade. My advice to them is to talk to the comrade or send him a letter outlining the issue and then make plans to implement corrective measures.

  14. It is matters like these I do realize I must be careful as to what I say and how I say it, but for all participants please note I am here out of concern for the people of SVG and in no way political, malice or even looking for trouble.

    I have to agree with ERIC AUDAIN that the situation with the “rat infestation” can not be taken for granted and it is not a matter of it can be dangerous it is dangerous, and by the comments there are a lot intelligent people in SVG. May I advice you not to wait on the Government and it’s under-fundings, you all can take actions for yourselves.

    Start coming together in your communities and schools, plan programs they do not have to be expensive, if they are then do try to raise funds, but something needs to be done. Go into the schools start with the little ones, I did a re-write of “three blind mice” and called it “three dirty mice” for a friend of mind to let the kids know how to get rid of rats, try doing small things like that; if we start in the homes then we can eliminate the risk factor of pollution and habourage for rats. Public health education can save a lot of lives starting at home because the families make up the society and country on a whole.

    Petition for more garbage bins in and around Kingstown, especially near the fast food areas and food outlets, I once remember in Kingstown having to walk with a juice tin in my hands for along time simply because there were few bins around and those I did encounter were over flowing and causing more harm than good. I saw PALMER made a some great suggestion as well, those dirty drains can not continue, they are to be regularly cleaned, if SVG don’t have enough people to do it then here is a way to create more employment, if the Government again can not afford go back to the school and community and start health awareness programs that allow gatherings to help out; if you are worried about materials for the programs then make a proposal and try getting sponsorship from private sectors. I am sure with an urgent and well put together report of the situation many would like to help.

    PALMER may I also suggest that your idea for the public sector in response to REYNOLD HEWITT do not stay on this page! Please dear you have such valid points that can be well used, try and find a way to publicized them and get some action behind it. Now I am wondering where are our health officers or we do not have them assign to the private sectors, where they review there garbage disposal and charge them if they are broken, or there isn’t such a law?….If not there should be because environmental health is important for the well being and maintenance of a country and the health of it’s people.

    As to you MR REYNOLD HEWITT, come on man that can not be all the response you can give to the people of SVG considering your expertise! Give us some ideas, I have seen the work you have done for the country of St. Lucia, I see your handy work in the Environmental Health and Public health. Extend your hand to us in knowledge.

    PETER, whoever you are, my dear I hear your passion dripping off every word you write, whether it is love for your country, it’s people or politics always stand for what you believe in. Even if you are hunted, searched out and found keep fighting for what you believe is right and soon there will be a crowd standing behind you if you fall to pick you up and fight also. It takes some one to show they care for others to understand.

  15. IRA, it all sounds good advice. No one would dare go into a school or anywhere else and do what you suggest without the express permission of the top man.

    People are rightfully frightened, not just for themselves but for there family and even extended family and second cousins. The spite and loss of jobs for those who would talk out or do not toe the ULP line shows no bounds. All your family and even friends could well lose their jobs and positions..

    You only have to look at what happened to Bigger Biggs and all the people who worked for him. They all lost their jobs to spite Bigger. Whole families with school children spited and left without any income or financial support, unable to feed themselves, resorting to begging on the streets.

    People have disappeared without a trace in SVG. People have also been murdered and no one ever convicted for such.

    The police regularly with the condoning of the government torture detainees in the interview rooms to extract confessions.

    There are people who have run from the country and yet are still pursued by would be assassins. Ask Allan Palmer about that, he has been to hell and back, even his brother was murdered to spite him.

    People who have gone abroad to work because they are not allowed to work in SVG, there overseas employers contacted and lied to to lose the person their new position.

    IRA, and it comes from the top, its not silly little Hitlers, its Hitler himself.

    IRA you were not here long enough or didn’t ask the right questions, you obviously do not full realise just how dangerous it is in SVG.

  16. Even the Coast Guard chief has now had spite launched at him, stopping him taking a new position in Barbados upon his recent retirement. Someone at the top of ULP government called Bados and told them not to employ him.

    Spite and malice knows no bounds in SVG.

  17. Peter what does the Coast Guard chief has to do with rats. There you go again with your commess stories. Why not get your own BLOG so you can start whatever topic to want to rant about.


    ¶2. (C) Kicking off what would be a three-hour meeting, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the Charge that the St. Vincent Police and Coast Guard had been stepping up efforts to go after drug traffickers. He acknowledged that his Government had been forced to address concerns on corrupt elements within the Vincentian Coast Guard, following incidents in which drug interception boats were found suddenly immobile when needed. To root out this corruption, he said that St. Vincent now vets, polygraphs and closely watches personnel. The PM said he would welcome U.S. assistance in polygraphing and broader anti-corruption efforts.

    PV PALMER, this is about rats, rats in the coast guard.

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