The Hong Kong government will launch 19 anti-rodent teams to catch rats late at night as part of its two-phase campaign to tackle more than 600 hygiene black spots and “beautify” the city’s public spaces.

Government contractors clean a wet market. File photo: GovHK.

Starting on Sunday, the government will roll out the first phase of its campaign to improve the city’s environmental hygiene by targeting 600-odd locations, Deputy Chief Secretary for Administration Cheuk Wing-hing said on Friday.

The hundreds of “hygiene black spots” included streets, back alleys and areas with rubbish disposal issues and problems with dripping air-conditioners. Government staff will clear trash and clean back alleys more often, Cheuk said, as well step up patrols and strengthen law enforcement.

“Environmental hygiene issues, such as illegal garbage disposal and the blockage of alleyways by sundries, not only affect the cityscape. Garbage houses and rodent infestation issues even constitute nuisance and public health risks,” Cheuk said during a press briefing.

Cheuk Wing-hing. Photo: GovHK.

The citywide environmental hygiene campaign marked one of new Hong Kong leader John Lee’s initiatives since he took office last month. Cheuk said environmental hygiene work was “broad and considerable,” and the involvement of numerous government departments could lead to situations where “responsibilities were unclear.” Public perception of the government may be affected, the deputy chief secretary said.

The latest operation is led by the new District Matters Co-ordination Task Force, set up under Lee’s administration, which Cheuk said aimed to “straighten out” the division of labour among departments and devise more effective measures to address environment hygiene issues citizens that were concerned about.

During the first phase of the campaign, which is set to last for three months, the authorities will also step up daily cleaning of 4,000 locations. They included wet markets, public toilets, pedestrian subways, parks, beaches, buildings with no owners’ corporations, residents’ organisations or property management companies, and public housing estates.

Street cleaners in Hong Kong. File photos: GovHK.

Some “preventive cleaning” measures will be conducted at drainage and sewage pipes, while shop signs considered dangerous will also be removed. Stage two of the campaign will begin in October, when the government will focus on “beautifying” public spaces, improving facilities on the streets and enhancing garden architecture in the city.

The key to maintaining a clean living environment lies in the public’s cooperation, Cheuk added: “I call on citizens to join this cleaning torrent that will affect their own living environment and Hong Kong’s international image. Use [your] actions to show your love for Hong Kong and manifest Hongkongers’ quality.”

A government contractor sets up traps to strengthen rodent control in markets. File photo: GovHK.

The authorities will set up 19 anti-rodent teams to tackle rat infestations across the city, together with new tools and bait, Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan said at the same press conference on Friday. The new teams aimed to impose more “targeted” and effective rodent control by catching rats late at night, he said.

A rodent infestation index will be introduced as well to better evaluate the efficacy of the government’s rats eradication work, Tse added.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.